Cooperation and collaboration robots, co-robots or cobots for short, are an integral part of factories. For example, they work closely with the fitters in the automotive sector, and everyone does what they do best. However, the novel robots are not only relevant in production and logistics, but also in the service sector, especially where proximity between them and the users is desired or unavoidable. For decades, individual solutions of a very different kind have been developed in care. Now experts are increasingly relying on co-robots and teaching them the special tasks that are involved in care or therapy. This article presents the advantages, but also the disadvantages of co-robots in care and support, and provides information with regard to human-robot interaction and communication. The article is based on a model that has already been tested in various nursing and retirement homes, namely Lio from F&P Robotics, and uses results from accompanying studies. The authors can show that co-robots are ideal for care and support in many ways. Of course, it is also important to consider a few points in order to guarantee functionality and acceptance.
Mobile manipulators can be used for machine tending and material handling tasks in small volume manufacturing applications. These applications usually have semi-structured work environment. The use of a fully autonomous mobile manipulator for such applications can be risky, as an inaccurate model of the workspace may result in damage to expensive equipment. On the other hand, the use of a fully teleoperated mobile manipulator may require a significant amount of operator time. In this paper, a semi-autonomous mobile manipulator is developed for safely and efficiently carrying out machine tending tasks under human supervision. The robot is capable of generating motion plans from the high-level task description and presenting simulation results to the human for approval. The human operator can authorize the robot to execute the automatically generated plan or provide additional input to the planner to refine the plan. If the level of uncertainty in some parts of the workspace model is high, then the human can decide to perform teleoperation to safely execute the task. Our preliminary user trials show that non-expert operators can quickly learn to use the system and perform machine tending tasks.
Technology is progressively reshaping the domestic environment as we know it, enhancing home security and the overall ambient quality through smart connected devices. However, demographic shift and pandemics recently demonstrate to cause isolation of elderly people in their houses, generating the need for a reliable assistive figure. Robotic assistants are the new frontier of innovation for domestic welfare. Elderly monitoring is only one of the possible service applications an intelligent robotic platform can handle for collective wellbeing. In this paper, we present Marvin, a novel assistive robot we developed with a modular layer-based architecture, merging a flexible mechanical design with state-of-the-art Artificial Intelligence for perception and vocal control. With respect to previous works on robotic assistants, we propose an omnidirectional platform provided with four mecanum wheels, which enable autonomous navigation in conjunction with efficient obstacle avoidance in cluttered environments. Moreover, we design a controllable positioning device to extend the visual range of sensors and to improve the access to the user interface for telepresence and connectivity. Lightweight deep learning solutions for visual perception, person pose classification and vocal command completely run on the embedded hardware of the robot, avoiding privacy issues arising from private data collection on cloud services.
RoboCup@Home is an international robotics competition based on domestic tasks requiring autonomous capabilities pertaining to a large variety of AI technologies. Research challenges are motivated by these tasks both at the level of individual technologies and the integration of subsystems into a fully functional, robustly autonomous system. We describe the progress made by the UT Austin Villa 2019 RoboCup@Home team which represents a significant step forward in AI-based HRI due to the breadth of tasks accomplished within a unified system. Presented are the competition tasks, component technologies they rely on, our initial approaches both to the components and their integration, and directions for future research.
In the past decade, society has experienced notable growth in a variety of technological areas. However, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has not been embraced yet. Industry 4.0 imposes several challenges which include the necessity of new architectural models to tackle the uncertainty that open environments represent to cyber-physical systems (CPS). Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) recycling plants stand for one of such open environments. Here, CPSs must work harmoniously in a changing environment, interacting with similar and not so similar CPSs, and adaptively collaborating with human workers. In this paper, we support the Distributed Adaptive Control (DAC) theory as a suitable Cognitive Architecture for managing a recycling plant. Specifically, a recursive implementation of DAC (between both singleagent and large-scale levels) is proposed to meet the expected demands of the European Project HR-Recycler. Additionally, with the aim of having a realistic benchmark for future implementations of the recursive DAC, a micro-recycling plant prototype is presented. Keywords: Cognitive Architecture, Distributed Adaptive Control, Recycling Plant, Navigation, Motor Control, Human-Robot Interaction.