Work packages to develop the third generation robot WorkPartner 3
Finishing of the mechanics, design and software of the manipulator. In previous generations, the mechanics of the two-handed manipulator have been nearly completed, including the acquisition of an electric three-finger gripper for WorkPartner's other hand. In phase three, another gripper or possibly a tool will be built or bought for the other hand. The design of the manipulator frame will be developed further. The design of manipulator's head and arms has already been completed. An high-level operating software for the manipulator will be developed, as well as an intermediate operating language with which WorkPartner will be able to give commands to the manipulator.
Further development of the environment perception system. A comprehensive system of sensors has been installed in WorkPartner. The sensor system will be used especially in researching the combined use of several sensors, for example developing the visual perception system by combining laser and video image. The laser measurement instrument of WorkPartner can be used also in so-called image operation mode. The tactile sensors in WorkPartner's hands and feet will also be developed further, as will the commands of the internal language of command relating to the sensor system.
Improvement of reliability and usability. Because service robots, like WorkPartner, will be used mostly by ordinary people, their usability and reliability is very important. Many software and hardware implementations are still on prototype level and need further refinement. Reliability will be improved with systematic operation testing and elimination of potential problem areas. Reinstalling hardware in a way that guarantees correct operation will eliminate current problems with electronics and wiring that are caused by the movement of robot and its parts. The reliability of software will be improved by modularization of the program structure and associated development of interfaces. Special attention will be given to correct and sufficient documentation. An automatic safety system for exceptional situations will be created to protect the machine from malfunctioning. The system will retain WorkPartner's operability, so that the robot's reactions in exceptional situations are controlled and return to normal state is possible without special initialization operations.
Safe operation and moving in public places. There are safety requirements for a service robot moving in public places. Humans must be able to perceive the robot and the robot must perceive humans. The robot's behaviour in human contact situations must be predictable and not dangerous to humans, since the working area of the robot will probably not be restricted like normally when operating working machinery. The requirements and responsibility questions according to laws etc. will be solved. In addition, suitable technical solutions will be investigated and implemented in WorkPartner. Additional sensors, mechanical safety systems or warning lights may be needed, as well as adding intelligence to the software.
Development of software environment for challenging tasks. WorkPartner must be able to complete difficult tasks autonomously. This requires a new approach to the ways the operator can give commands to the robot. The robot must be able to operate without constant operator presence and direction. A cognitive interface for performing difficult tasks will be integrated in the software. The interface will be developed so that it makes possible graphical planning of work tasks. Different task sequences can be combined in a graphic environment to form whole work tasks. Properties that make learning possible are developed in task sequences. Task sequences must contain sensory perception and be as generic as possible, so that they can be used as a basis for many different work tasks. WorkPartner's learning capability will be developed so that it will be able to complete demanding work tasks. In the learning support system the robot can receive the operator's feedback on how well a task was completed (so-called supervised learning), or it can analyze the successfulness of a completed task by itself (self learning). Learning will be be made an integral part of the interface.
Final demonstrations and conference trips. The WorkPartner service robot will be demonstrated in European media. There are plans to demonstrate the robot in international expositions, and WorkPartner has already been on show in ISR 2004 conference that was held in Paris on March 2004. Final demonstrations will also be organized for project participants, scientific communities, the industry and media. General demonstrations for students and school pupils will be organized. In the summer of 2004, WorkPartner was demonstrated to the general audience in the Finnish Science centre Heureka, as part oh an automation exposition. The tasks demonstrated will include guarding, moving objects and tasks that involve using different kinds of tools.
Investigation of commercialization potential. The WorkPartner project has produced many research results and technical solutions pertaining to different subsystems of the robot. The potential for commercial use of the subsystems will be investigated, as well as the potential for commercial versions of the entire robot. In Finland there are currently no companies that could make WorkPartner a part of their product range, but there is a possibility of founding such a company. In the European Union, there are already companies whose mission is to develop robotics research prototypes into commercial products. Also some American companies may be suitable partners in WorkPartner's commercialization. Technical solutions developed for WorkPartner's different subsystems, like interface, navigation system and sensory system, have potential for commercialization in the development of existing machines. A thorough account of all commercialization options will be made in collaboration with the companies participating in the project.
Work packages to develop the second generation robot WorkPartner 2
Second phase of the development also includes the development of the cognitive user interface and research of the neurorobotics. Also the possibilities to make a marketable product of WorkPartner are considered and international cooperation is carried on.
Completion of the mechanics of the manipulator. Two more degrees of freedom will be added to the manipulator. Simple electrical grippers will be constructed.
Manipulators piloting software. In the phase one electronics and software for the controlling of the single degree of freedom were created. Furthermore direct and inverse kinematics were calculated for the two handed manipulator. Integrated motions can be executed using these kinematics. In the phase two a piloting software and instruction set that uses these kinematics will be created. Piloting uses position, force or position and force control. Force control may be done using calculation and currents measured from the motors. In the case force sensors are needed they can be added to the wrists of the manipulator.
Internal language of command. Internal language of command will be created for WorkPartner. This language will operate as an interface between upper mission level and lower control level. This so called intermediate language gets partial missions as an input and produces speed, motion mode and position parameters for the body control. Interfaces and coordination methods for controlling the cooperation between the manipulator and body will be made in the intermediate language. Commanding of the manipulator with the intermediate language is bi-directional so that body movement takes into account the angles of the manipulator's axis. The teleoperation of the robot can be done using program blocks that transfer the joystick position to the language commands. An interpreter for the internal language of command will be made to the simulator for the task simulation. The mid-language is based on the Motion Control Language for Mobile robots, which is created in VTT Automation. The language is built on XML.
WLAN for connecting user, robot and servers. The functionality and control of the WorkPartner robot leans on WLAN. When needed, several robots can be connected to the same network. Visual and numerical information and controls between the user, server and robot will be exchanged safely in real time. Some of the heaviest data processing will be made in the server. Remote piloting using the net operates through the server. The central mission of this work package is to manage the dataflow so that time critical or safety functions can be performed in the way that fulfils the requirements.
Further development of the navigation and perception system. Basic instrumentation and software for the navigation and perception is already onboard. Further development will be done for using the software for robot control in work tasks nearby the objects and moving between them. An essential part of this system is to use the 3D-map and virtual operations model from the server using the WLAN connection.
Further development of the simulation software In the WorkPartner-1 project kinematics and dynamics simulation software was created. In the second phase using this software for developing the work task control will become even more important. Simulation model will be developed further. The internal language of command will be added and the model is extended with building new virtual surroundings for work tasks. Using the kinematical simulation model will speed up the development of the work task control. Non-real time dynamical simulation can be used for studying the balance of the robot and needed actuator moments in certain special situations. Kinematical simulation model can be used for monitoring the robot.
The combined motion control of the manipulator and the body in work tasks. Performing the work tasks with the manipulator calls for relatively complex motion control. The body does not always localize itself precisely and smooth manipulation requires the connecting of the body's degrees of freedom into task performing. Manipulator's workspace can be extended actively with the body's DOF and the stabilization of the robot can be increased when the manipulation disturbs it. The methods and the software will be created.
Completion of the design. The covers for the manipulator are designed and prototype covers are now ready. Also the head module has been designed.
Work packages to develop the first generation robot WorkPartner 1
Mechanical design and manufacturing. Includes basic design of the mechanics and its implementation. Starting point hybrid locomotion system, electromechanical actuators and light weight which allows as good as possible mobility both in outdoor and indoor environments as well as a reasonably fast speed on flat hard ground. Target weight of the machine is about 160 kg, and payload is about 60kg.
Design and implementation of the control system. Includes basic control software, which is necessary for functionality. The basic automation system will be realized in PC+CAN+microcontroller environment. The motor controls (brushless EC-motors) are realized by commercial controllers.
Design and development of the hybrid power system. The system contains a 4 kW lightweight 4 tact combustion engine (Honda), generator, batteries and the control system. The design criterion is to minimize the power of the engine and to optimize its use by utilizing the changes in the load.
Development of the Man-Machine-Interface. The MMI will be designed for operators working outside of the robot, but in some cases very closely co-operating with it. The robot can also be accessible via internet in a remote place. The MMI is designed to be multimedia based and highly interactive. It allows the operator and the robot to share a common virtual working environment and to communicate with each other.
Navigation system. The basic navigation system includes inertia system for dead reckoning and odometer adapted to the locomotion system. Modern gyro technology is used for the inertia system. Development of the odometer requires special algorithms which take into account the kinematics of walking when the hybrid locomotion mode is used.
Basic sensing system. The sensing system includes a stereo vision system and radar like sensors, like ultrasound, lasar and millimeter wave RF-radar. The components of the sensing system are either commercial or are developed in other projects, but their adaptation to WorkPartner robot will be done in this work package.
Designing. The appearance of the WorkPartner robot will be designed professionally so that it is a pleasant looking product that pleases people working with it.
Manipulator. Two handed, human torso-like manipulator will be designed and built.