The prime objective of LOCOBOT is to create a tool-kit for low-cost robot assistants built from a set of plug-and-produce kinematic modules with compliant, but precise actuators and intelligent sensing for man-machine cooperation. These scenario-driven systems are socially accepted by the worker. The tool-kit will provide higher flexibility, adaptivity and scalability that are all required to enable greener, more customized and high quality products.
More specificially, from a technological point of view we have to address three major objectives:
A) Modular plug-and-produce robotic assistant platform
The robot will consist of a set of kinematic modules built upon a mobile platform. The single mod-ules have to be lightweight and compliant to enable safe cooperation with humans. Furthermore the modules have to be mechanically standardized to allow the configuration of different kinematic structures. Simple electrical and software interface have to support a quick and easy re-configuration.
B) Re-configuration and adaptive control for P&P components
The key objective is to avoid time-consuming reprogramming and setup of control algorithms and software. Control algorithms need to be adaptive and self-optimizing to account for the different kinematic structures, to deal with oscillations induced by the mobile platform and to achieve precise positioning despite “soft” and compliant modules. The modules will be virtually assembled and the whole kinematic structure will be pre-programmed for a given task. This will be based on simulation tools that include not only the robot but also the environment and human workers. The results will be an automatically generated code that can be downloaded to the robot.
C) Intelligent sensing and actuating structures
Not all the uncertainties of the real world can be covered by the simulation in objective B). Consequently, the robot will be equipped with a stereo camera system and audio components to acquire and process audio-visual information. This will be required for the robot to learn and to cooperate with human workers.