Combining Search and Action for Mobile Robots
We explore the interconnection between search and action in the context of mobile robotics. The task of searching for an object and then performing some action with that object is important in many applications. Of particular interest to us is the idea of a robot assistant capable of performing worthwhile tasks around the home and office (e.g., fetching coffee, washing dirty dishes, etc.). We prove that some tasks allow for search and action to be completely decoupled and solved separately, while other tasks require the problems to be analyzed together. We complement our theoretical results with the design of a combined search/action approximation algorithm that draws on prior work in search. We show the effectiveness of our algorithm by comparing it to state-of-the-art solvers, and we give empirical evidence showing that search and action can be decoupled for some useful tasks. Finally, we demonstrate our algorithm on an autonomous mobile robot performing object search and delivery in an office environment.