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Augsburg, Germany

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA | Phase: ICT-2011.2.1 | Award Amount: 2.02M | Year: 2013

Robot competitions have proved to be an effective instrument to foster scientific research and push the state of the art in a field. Teams participating in a competition must identify best practice solutions covering a wide range of functionalities and integrate them into practical systems. These systems have to work in the real world, outside of the usual laboratory conditions. The competition experience helps to transfer the applied methods and tools to successful and high-impact real-world applications. Other effects of robot competitions are that young students are attracted to science and engineering disciplines, and that the relevance of robotics research is demonstrated to citizens. However, some limitations can emerge as competitions mature: the effort required to enter the competition grows and may present a barrier for the participation of new teams; a gap between benchmarking complete systems in competitions and benchmarking subsystems in research may develop and limit the usefulness of the competition results to industry.\n\nThe goal of RoCKIn is to speed up the progress towards smarter robots through scientific competitions. Two challenges have been selected for the competitions due to their high relevance and impact on Europes societal and industrial needs: domestic service robots (RoCKIn@Home) and innovative robot applications in industry (RoCKIn@Work). Both challenges have been inspired by activities in the RoboCup community, but RoCKIn improves and extends them by introducing new and prevailing research topics, like natural interaction with humans or networking mobile robots with sensors in ambient environments, in addition to specifying concrete benchmark criteria for assessing progress.\n\nThe RoCKIn project\n\tdesigns open domain testbeds for competitions targeting the two challenges and usable by researchers worldwide,\n\tdevelops methods for benchmarking through competitions that allow to assess both particular subsystems as well as the integrated system,\n\torganizes two robot competition events, each of them based on the two challenges and testbeds,\n\torganizes camps open to student participants, so as to help new teams getting involved in the competitions, and\n\texecutes dissemination activities to target stakeholders in industry and academia, as well as the general public.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: FoF.ICT.2010.10.1 | Award Amount: 5.18M | Year: 2010

Todays automation and logistics paradigms make it difficult, time consuming, and costly to change the type of the product manufactured and to scale the production up and down in response to market volatility. Consequently, and with the increasing market uncertainties, it becomes more and more difficult to justify new automation lines. To keep production in Europe instead of shifting it to low-wage countries, this project will break new ground in robot-based automation and logistics as the backbone of a transformable factory of the future, enabling an economic production regardless of changes in volumes and product type.TAPAS pioneers the following tasks in real production environments: mobile robots with manipulation arms will make logistic tasks more flexible and more complete by not only transporting, but also collecting the parts needed and delivering them right to the place were needed. Since moving parts around the shop floor does not create value by itself, TAPAS robots go even beyond: they will automate assistive tasks that naturally extend the logistic tasks, such as preparatory and post-processing works, e.g., pre-assembly or machine tending with inherent quality control. Through this additional creation of value and by a faster adaptation to changes with new levels of robustness, availability, and completeness of jobs TAPAS robots promise to yield an earlier return of investment.To reach the objectives, the TAPAS consortium will iteratively test and validate the developments with two pilot installations of increasing complexity and scale. The drivers behind TAPAS are a robot manufacturer and a system integrator, providing both their production environments for intensive testing and validation, and a software technology provider. Teaming up with three excellent research partners they will develop logistic and assistive robotic solutions for transformable automation that are generally applicable and scalable.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.2.1 | Award Amount: 18.21M | Year: 2012

Over two-thirds of European workers in manufacturing are employed in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Their primary means of competition is to respond rapidly to changing production needs and to keep product quality at a very high level. While robots are able to carry out repetitive tasks to a high standard, they do not meet the demands of SMEs for high flexibility. Todays robots know only their nominal task, which limits their ability to deal with sudden changes in the manufacturing process.For the operation of robots in an SME environment, which is typically less structured and involves more uncertainties, the currently available solutions result in overly complex system integration. Instead, cognitive abilities should be included in the equipment and cognition should take place in both the robot and the human, such that the workers knowledge can be fully utilised and productivity demands can be met. Additionally, the concepts and symbols used in dialogues need to have a common grounding in order to guarantee ease of use.Therefore, we propose the SMErobotics work system, which covers all phases of the robot life-cycle and in which humans and robots can together deal with SME manufacturing uncertainties and are symbiotically able to learn from each other and to learn from the past handling of uncertainties. The SMErobotics vision is to deploy such robots on SME shop floors, with the benefit of long-term improvements in productivity.\nThe SMErobotics initiative pays careful attention to SME-related issues and scientific challenges, as is reflected by its strong industrial involvement supported by leading researchers and building on successful collaboration between industry and academia as well as on demonstration-driven research from the SMErobot project. Additional partners will be included in order to widen the initiatives impact by transferring project results to European pilot applications of SME-compatible cognitive robot systems.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.2.1 | Award Amount: 7.62M | Year: 2011

The ACTIVE project exploits ICT and other engineering methods and technologies for the design and development of an integrated redundant robotic platform for neurosurgery. A light and agile redundant robotic cell with 20 degrees-of-freedom (DoFs) and an advanced processing unit for pre- and intra-operative control will operate both autonomously and cooperatively with surgical staff on the brain, a loosely structured environment. As the patient will not be considered rigidly fixed to the operating table and/or to the robot, the system will push the boundaries of the state of the art in the fields of robotics and control for the accuracy and bandwidth required by the challenging and complex surgical scenario.\n\nTwo cooperating robots will interact with the brain that will deform for the tool contact, blood pressure, breathing and deliquoration. Human factors are considered by allowing easy interaction with the users through a novel haptic interface for tele-manipulation and by a collaborative control mode (hands-on). Force and video feedback signals will be provided to surgeons. Active constraints will limit and direct tool tip position, force and speed preventing damage to eloquent areas, defined on realistic tissue models updated on-the-field through sensors information. The active constraints will be updated (displaced) in real time in response to the feedback from tool-tissue interactions and any additional constraints arising from a complex shared workspace. The overarching control architecture of ACTIVE will negotiate the requirements and references of the two slave robots.\n\nThe operative room represents the epitome of a dynamic and unstructured volatile environment, crowded with people and instruments. The workspace will thus be monitored by environmental cameras, and machine learning techniques will be used for the safe workspace sharing. Decisions about collision avoidance and downgrading to a safe state will be taken autonomously, the movement of the head of the patient will be filtered by a bespoke active head frame, while fast and unpredictable patient motion will be compensated by a real-time cooperative control system. Cognitive skills will help to identify the target location in the brain and constrain robotic motions by means of on-field observations.

Agency: Cordis | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.2.1 | Award Amount: 11.57M | Year: 2011

Recent progress in physical Human-Robot Interaction (pHRI) showed that active and safe workspace sharing becomes possible in principle. Inspired by these results, SAPHARI will perform a fundamental paradigm shift in robot development in the sense that we place the human as the centre of the entire design. We address all essential aspects of safe, intuitive physical interaction between humans and complex, human-like robotic systems in a strongly interconnected manner. While encompassing safety issues based on biomechanical analysis, human-friendly hardware design, and interaction control strategies, the project will develop and validate perceptive and cognitive key components that enable robots to track, understand and predict human motions in a weakly structured dynamic environment in real-time. Apart from developing the necessary capabilities for interactive autonomy, we will tightly incorporate the human safety also at the cognitive level. This will enable the robots to react or physically interact with humans in a safe and autonomous way. Biomechanical knowledge and biologically motivated variable compliance actuators will be used to design bimanual manipulation systems close to human properties and performance. Planning motions and tasks of such complex systems in real-time require new concepts, including tight coupling of control and planning, that lead to new reactive action generation behaviours. Moreover, self explaining interaction and communication frameworks will be developed to enhance the system usability. The project focuses on two industrial use cases that explicitly require contacts and force exchange in human-robot co-work, as well as on professional service scenarios in hospitals, in which a medical staff and an assisting robot interact closely during daily work. Results of this project are expected to strongly impact all applications where interactive robots can assist humans and release them from dangerous or routine tasks.

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