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    Research Projects




    AI-powered manipulation system for advanced robotic service, manufacturing and prosthetics

    This project is focusing on the question of “How a robot can efficiently learn to manipulate in a purposeful and highly performant way”. IntelliMan will range from learning individual manipulation skills from human demonstration to learning abstract descriptions of a manipulation task suitable for high-level planning, to discovering an object’s functionality by interacting with it, to guarantee performance and safety. IntelliMan aims at developing a novel AI-Powered Manipulation System with persistent learning capabilities, able to perceive the main characteristics and features of its surrounding by means of a heterogeneous set of sensors, able to decide how to execute a task in an autonomous way and able to detect failures in the task execution in order to request new knowledge through the interaction with humans and the environment. IntelliMan further investigates how such AI-powered manipulation systems are perceived by the users and what factors enhance human acceptability.



    Robotic technologies for the manipulation of complex deformable linear objects

    REMODEL project is a four-year project funded by the European Commission in the Horizon 2020 programme. The project consortium involves eleven partners. REMODEL will enable new production environments, where the manufacturing of complex products composed of multiple wires and cables by means of robots is not only possible, but fully integrated with the product design chain. Wires, cables, wiring harnesses, laces and flexible tubes have a transversal application in many manufacturing processes, where these technologies could lean the scale for a total automation, decreasing the production costs and improving the worker conditions. REMODEL will bring new opportunities to human-intensive labor manufacturing processes like the one dealing with cables and wires, where the routing and fitting tasks are calling for advanced handling techniques. The REMODEL robotic ability will impact several production scenarios in which human work is widely adopted due to the complexity in the objects, materials and manipulation tasks, characterized unpredictable initial configuration as well as large deformability and plasticity. To proof the effectiveness of the REMODEL outcomes, four industrial manufacturing use cases provided by the industrial partners and covering five different domains, i.e. the production and assembly of wiring harnesses in the automotive and the aerospace field, the switchgear wiring and the manufacturing of medical consumables, will be developed.




    Robotics Enabling Fully‐Integrated Logistics Lines for Supermarkets

    While online grocery stores are expanding, supermarkets continue to provide customers with the sensory experience of choosing goods while walking between display shelves. Retail and logistics companies are committed towards a shopping experience more comfortable and exciting while, at the same time, using technology to reduce costs and increase efficiency. The H2020 REFILLS Research and Innovation Action (1/1/2017—30/6/2020) will improve logistics in a supermarket thanks to mobile robotic systems in close and smart collaboration with humans, addressing the main in-store logistics processes for retail shops: in particular, robots will allow a smarter shelf refilling. Information on the supermarket articles is exploited to create powerful knowledge bases, used by the robots to identify shelves, recognize missing or misplaced articles, handle them and navigate the shop. Reasoning allows robots to cope with changing task requirements and contexts, and perception-guided reactive control makes them robust to execution errors and uncertainty. A modular approach is adopted for the design of cost-efficient robotic units. A final demonstration will take place at a real retail store. In sum, REFILLS is committed to generating wide impact in the retail market domain and beyond through the development of efficient logistics solutions for professional use.




    Lean robotized AssemBly and cOntrol of composite aeRostructures

    One of the most important challenges for the next aircraft assembly lines is the increase of the level of automation to improve quality standards, production rates and flexibility.
    Drilling, fastener insertion, riveting, sealing, coating and painting applications, in addition to material handling, are the most recurrent operations in aircraft assembly lines. The majority of these operations are performed by machines and big robots, i.e., high-cost rigid solutions, but still a high number of the drilling and riveting operations are performed by the operators. The LABOR project will contribute to advance the state-of-the-art in the automated assembly allowing the adoption of lean and self-adaptive robotic technologies, that combines:

    • small/medium size robots: to provide higher capability of adaptation and easy integration in shop floor already existing facilities;
    • adaptive processing tools: to perform in an automatic and adaptive way the different processing tasks;
    • advanced vision systems: to reference the robots and check the quality of the work performed;
    • distributed intelligence: to build a more flexible solution.




    European Robotics Challenges

    The European manufacturing industry needs competitive solutions to keep global leadership in products and services. Exploiting synergies across application experts, technology suppliers, system integrators and service providers will speed up the process of bringing innovative technologies from research labs to industrial end-users. As an enabler in this context, the EuRoC initiative proposes to launch three industry-relevant challenges:

    • Reconfigurable Interactive Manufacturing Cell
    • Shop Floor Logistics and Manipulation
    • Plant Servicing and Inspection




    WIring Robotic SystEm for Switchgears

    The experiment aims to improve production quality of switchgears by automatizing the wiring process which is currently handled manually due to high complexity of the involved manipulation tasks. The experiment will contribute in software as well as hardware (grippers) to come up with a robotic solution for wiring. The main challenge is to develop a novel gripper with tactile sensors which can handle deformable objects such as wires and simultaneously operate on screw/clip type connection points.




    LOw COst Manufacturing and Assembly of Composite and Hybrid Structures

    Faster and more cost efficient assembly of composite structural parts is a key enabler to high rate production. The LOCOMACHS objectives are to combine existing and innovative technologies to remove non-added value operations, which are time consuming and induce recurring costs, within composite production lines..




    Safe and Autonomous Physical Human-Aware Robot Interaction

    SAPHARI will perform a fundamental paradigm shift in robot development in the sense that we place the human at the centre of the entire design. The project will take a big step further along the human-centered roadmap by addressing 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 key perceptive and cognitive components that enable robots to track, understand and predict human motions in a weakly structured dynamic environment in real-time.
    We will equip robots with the capabilities to react to human actions or even take the initiative to interact in a situation-dependent manner relying on sensor based decisions and background knowledge.




    DEXterous and autonomous dual-arm/hand robotic manipulation with sMART sensory-motor skills: A bridge from natural to artificial cognition

    The robotic systems of the next decade will be, potentially, a part of everyday life as our appliances, servants and assistants, as our helpers and eldercare companions, assisting surgeons in medical operations, intervening in hazardous or life-critical environments for search and rescue operations, and operating in field areas like forestry, agriculture, cleaning, mining, freight transport, construction and demolition, and so on. Personal and service robots will thus be found in all domains of our future life, as cellular phones or laptop computers; they represent not only a hope for a more convenient world but also a massive new market for leading-edge technology industry and significant business opportunities, especially for European industry.
    Only a few of the technologies required to build functional personal and service robots already exist at the component level and markets for these products are getting gradually into place. Continuous research and development efforts are required to combine the different technologies, create new products and services, enhance the existing ones for a wide range of possible applications.
    As compared to research and development on humanoid robots in Asia, the focus in Europe is rather on useful service tasks than pure social entertainment. Applications of robot companions range from a helper in family homes to executing tasks in offices, public environments and in services. Another important application area is the assistance to elderly and mobility-impaired people that could be helped to achieve some independence from full time caring personnel. In this scenario, bringing a robot to the same manipulation skills as those of human beings is recognised as the crucial issue for a technology transfer from the prototypes available in the European labs to all sectors of the industry, ultimately aimed at opening up services markets to robots.
    The realisation of a truly dexterous and autonomous dual-arm/hand manipulation system is still an open research issue: bimanual manipulation is such a complex task combining different strategies, constraints, goals, advanced sensing and actuating technologies, requiring new concepts and design of artificial cognitive systems. The DEXMART project attempts to extend a bridge from research on natural cognition to research on artificial cognition, as it will primarily contribute to the development of robotic systems endowed with dexterous and human-aware dual-arm/hand manipulation skills for objects, operating with a high degree of autonomy in unstructured real-world environments.
    The achievement of the research objectives proposed within DEXMART will have an important impact toward the achievement of robust and versatile behaviour of artificial systems in open-ended environments providing intelligent response in unforeseen situations, and enhancing human-machine interaction.
    To sum up, the DEXMART project has the ambition to fill the gap between the use of robots in industrial environments and the use of future robots in everyday human and unstructured environments, contributing to reinforce European competitiveness in all those domains of personal and service robotics where dexterous and autonomous dual-hand manipulation capabilities are required.



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