Robot Button Pressing in Human Environments

Fan Wang, Gerry Chen, Kris Hauser

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


In order to conduct many desirable functions, service robots will need to actuate buttons and switches that are designed for humans. This paper presents the design of a robot named SwitchIt that is small, relatively inexpensive, easily mounted on a mobile robot, and actuates buttons reliably. Its operating characteristics were developed after conducting a systematic study of buttons and switches in human environments. From this study, we develop a categorization of buttons based on a set of physical properties relevant for robots to operate them. After a human calibrates and annotates buttons in the robot's environment using a hand-held tablet, the system automatically recognizes, pushes, and detects the state of a variety of buttons. Empirical tests demonstrate that the system succeeds in operating 95.7% of 234 total buttons/switches in an office building and a household environment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2018
PublisherInstitute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Inc.
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)9781538630815
StatePublished - Sep 10 2018
Externally publishedYes
Event2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2018 - Brisbane, Australia
Duration: May 21 2018May 25 2018

Publication series

NameProceedings - IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation
ISSN (Print)1050-4729


Conference2018 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation, ICRA 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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