Calling for (robotic) help: Human-robot cooperation to transport goods

TIAGo robot helps a human with a box in a concept for Project Co4Robots

Robotic help for people

Human-Robot collaboration is being pushed ahead by Co4Robots! The European Union Collaborative Project has successfully achieved the first Milestone, which consists of a human and a TIAGo robot working together to move goods from one place to another in cooperation.

Remember that Co4Robots’ purpose is to create a multi-robot system that is able to interconnect and control diverse robots in an environment that is constantly changing. So, for example, if a robot happens to fail from doing a task, another one can notice it and go to the rescue.

Understanding that a person asks for help

In this first milestone, TIAGo is put into a dynamic environment in which a person asks for help to move an object. TIAGo has to understand that the person is making a sign to him, stop whatever it is doing and be flexible enough to change plans.

Then, the robot and the person grab the object and transport it all together. How? Using force feedback: TIAGo follows the direction that the human transmits through the force he applies to the object. Finally, the person indicates TIAGo to stop helping through another gesture.

What does it take for a robot to have an autonomous behavior in such situation? To begin with: autonomous mobility, obstacle avoidance and self-localization in space, plus manipulation abilities that take into account the force feedback of the person. Also, TIAGo had to successfully recognize and track objects, people and identify gestures.

The mobile manipulator TIAGo robot helps a man with a box during the Project Co4Robots

Human-Robot alliance goes beyond research

 

Imagine people with mobility issues that can count on the support of a TIAGo at home or at the hospital facilities. Think about supply chains where robots can lend a helping hand to safely transport goods around. Or assist in loading and unloading medium weight boxes and guarantee that the worker doesn’t suffer any injury.

This Co4Robots application is certainly opening a world of possibilities in enabling collaborative robots to effectively cooperate with us. Co4Robots developments are valuable for both industrial and domestic environments and are actually applicable to many more contexts. That’s how we advance towards a better quality of life by using robots!

The Co4Robots consortium is formed by KTH (Sweden), BOSCH (Germany), FORTH (Greece), UGOT (Sweden) and NTUA (Greece).

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