Robots in research
TAKING HUMAN-ROBOT-COLLABORATION TO A NEW LEVEL
THE ROBOT THAT PLAYS WITH LEGO: WHY THE UR5 ROBOT BUILDS A TOY ROCKET AT TU FREIBERG
David Vogt, robot researcher at TU Freiberg and father of two boys, was playing Legos with his kids when the question came to his mind: Can you teach a robot to play Lego? He was curious to find out and started testing, with the university-owned UR5 robot serving as a playmate. The UR5 cobot is equipped with a 3-Finger Gripper and twelve cameras. The scientists on the other hand wear special sensors on their arms and hands so that the UR5 can monitor all of their movements and learn exactly like a child: Simply by watching.
Vogt wanted the UR5 to build the same Lego rocket he made with his son, which requires a high level of dexterity. No problem for the UR5: After the robot had watched Vogt building the Lego rocket just one time, he was already able to rebuild it. Besides, the cobot doesn’t just put Lego block on Lego block – he also tries to analyze what his human colleagues are doing and how he can help them in the best way. For example; when the robot arm sees that the scientist wants to add the next building block, he hands him the suitable one. Vogt and his colleagues are very happy with their success - so far, this is one of the few robots worldwide that have learned only by watching humans. Developing this technology further means that eventually, cobots don’t have to be programmed before starting a new job but can simply learn by seeing – which will make their use, e.g. in industrial production, much easier and cheaper in the future.
Human-robot collaboration. Learning the collaborative robot to jointly assemble a leg rocket with a human user.
MEET JULIUS, THE MINING ROBOTS
One of Julius’s roles so far is to act as an assistant during my surveying tasks. The robot accompanies a human surveyor, carrying the heavy equipment and collecting sensory data with handheld measurement devices that have been designed for use by humans. Another scenario, where the robot would be teleoperated, is the exploration of mine areas that are unsafe for humans, for example in disaster cases or abandoned mines. To be able to do that, the robot has to establish a data communication link to the base station by placing WiFi relay stations throughout the mine. Looking ahead, Prof. Bernhard Jung from TU Freiberg says: “The deep mines of the future will be very hot places and ventilation and cooling systems will be economically prohibitive. In fact, a long-term vision in the mining research community is the fully automated "man-less mine".”
Those are just two great examples for the huge potential of robotic assistance systems and we are curious to see what scientists will come up with next. Colleague robot, please assist!
If you are intereste in getting started with our collaborative robots, feel free to download our free e-book "Get started with cobots" here
Mounted on a mobile robot, the UR5 is wearing a black sleeve to protect against dust and debris. Photo courtesy of David Vogt, TU Freiberg.