RSS 2013 Workshop

Programming with constraints: Combining high-level action specification and low-level motion execution


Action instructions like ``put the screw inside the nut (to tighten it)'', ``grasp the shopping basket (to carry it around)” or ``push the spatula under the pancake (to flip it)” all describe the desired effects of motions of robot-controlled objects. From an artificial intelligence perspective, desired and undesired interactions can be modelled as symbolic constraints in the object-action-effect space. Such action formalism do, however, abstract away from how actions are performed, e.g. chosen movement parameters. This, in turn, leads to action effects which are non-deterministic and inexplicable for the high-level system.

Numerous research endeavours in the field of robot motion control, on the other hand, have converged towards specifying robot motions using geometric and dynamic constraints. The proposed solutions often provide a methodology for translating a set of such constraints into corresponding control laws. By using these low-level, constraint-based, motion descriptions, researchers have found elegant formalizations to put a screw inside a nut, or a spatula under a pancake. These approaches, however, are often agnostic to the involved objects, performed actions and desired effects.

This workshop focuses on the opportunities which arise when building systems combining technologies from both of the above fields. We identify and discuss problems emerging in the interplay of high-level action specification and low-level motion execution. More specifically, we investigate which properties an interlingua (i.e. a Domain Specific Language) requires to allow expression and exchange of available and necessary information between the two sub-systems. In particular, we examine how constraint-based task description can bridge high-level action specification and low-level motion execution.

Call for Contributions

We invite submissions for poster presentation. The content of the contribution must be resumed in a two-pages abstract and adhere to the paper template of RSS 2013. Abstracts should address the link between the proposed contributions and the workshop themes. Submissions can be directed to

As final contribution, please provide a pdf version of the poster, which layout is at the authors choice.

Autors will be responsible of poster printing.

Important Dates

  • May 10 2013: Submission of contributions
  • May 24 2013: Acceptance Notification
  • June 7 2013: Final version of posters for presentation
  • June 28 2013: Workshop

Confirmed Speakers

  1. Michael Beetz (Universität Bremen)
  2. Aude Billard (École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL))
  3. Tinne De Laet (KU Leuven)
  4. Sami Haddadin (Robots and Mechatronics Center (DLR))
  5. Luis Sentis (University of Texas)
  6. Mike Stilman (Georgia Institute of Technology)


Time WS-Part Activity
08:55 09:00 “Object-action-effect” programming Introduction
09:00 09:45 Michael Beetz Towards robots that know what they are doing: reasoning about and executing complex movements to achieve the desired effects
09:45 10:30 Aude Billard Automatic extraction of constraints for impedance control
10:30 11:00 Break
11:00 11:45 Mike Stilman Handling Constraints in Task-Level Motion Generation
11:45 12:30 Poster presentation
Partial Force Control of Constrained Floating-Base Robots
Learning Constraints with Keyframes
Extracting task constraints as a middle layer between low level control and high level planning
A System for High-Level Task Specification Using Complex Sensor-based Skills
12:30 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 14:45 Constraint-based programming Tinne de Laet iTaSC: A Framework for Constraint-based Task Specification, from Theory to Software
14:45 15:30Sami Haddadin Bridging the gap between interaction control and programming models
15:30 16:00Coffee Break
16:00 16:45Luis Sentis Programming and controlling humanoid robots with multicontact constraints.
16:45 17:30 Round table and wrap-up discussion


Georg Bartels, Michael Beetz, Gianni Borghesan, Sami Haddadin, Luis Sentis