CaRo: Core capabilities for co-workers Robots

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August 19, 2022
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The ultimate goal of robotic automation tends to be presented as full automation with fully autonomous, intelligent and dexterous robots. However, robots have not yet achieved either the intelligence or the skills required to solve some tasks when uncertainty (from different sources) is significant or, if the robots can solve the tasks, they may be very inefficient.

Robot-human collaboration for greater work efficiency

This has led to the concept of robot co-worker, a robot that is sufficiently skilled, intelligent and autonomous, destined to work as a collaborator of the human being who has the necessary knowledge and capabilities to seek solutions to solve tasks in certain situations.

The concept of robot co-worker is not new and is increasingly important in current robotics, although its technical requirements are not totally resolved. A robot co-worker should be prepared to work jointly with the human in workspaces that are more adapted to the human than to the robot. The robot should act in such a way that the efficiency of the work done with the human is greater than that of both of them working separately. This implies that robots should have specific capacities (of intelligence and skills) to be sufficiently autonomous during their collaboration with humans.

Research on service and industrial robotics

In this line, the Service and Industrial Robotics (SIR) group participates in CaRo, whose aim is to advance in the development of core capabilities for dual-arm robot co-workers, through tools to provide the robots with manipulation capacities that make them able to:

  • Work in semi-structured human environments and cope with uncertainties or variations in the state of the environment and the result of the actions that have been undertaken.
  • Fluently interact with other robots and with human operators, trying to perform human-like movements to facilitate the interaction.
  • Exploit the dexterity given by two mechanical hands.

Specific objectives of the CaRo project, validated through real experiments

As part of the project, information processing tools will be developed to understand the environment and the current situation of the task to resolve. In addition, dynamic methods will be developed for flexible, fast adaptation to the state of the environment to avoid replanning processes. In addition, robust strategies should be drawn up for bi-manual grasping and manipulation, with particular emphasis on in-two-hand manipulation. In addition, new communication technologies, like 5G, will be exploited to improve communication between the operator and the robot, between robots or between a robot and a distributed information system.

The proposed solutions will be validated in a real experimental setup, including a dual-arm robot with dexterous capacities that will be used as a robot co-worker.

The project started in 2021 and will end in 2025. CaRo received funding from the State Plan for Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation 2017-2020, with a total of 185,000 euros for its execution.

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