The main goal of InterAID was to demonstrate the feasibility of applying mobile robots with manipulation capabilities to advanced diagnosis and quality control in industrial environments. As application environment, the reliability lab of a white goods factory producing washing machines was chosen. The proposed system targets the repetitive tasks of taking measurements of the products in order to guarantee standardized and consistent quality control. In particular, the mobile robot is able to find its way around the reliability lab and approach the single machines autonomously. When the robot is in front of a washing machine, it can push buttons, turn knobs and open/close the front door in order to power on the machine or change washing programs. Furthermore, it can position its special sensors, e.g. microphones or a camera, as close as possible to the machine in order to check that it is operating correctly. Since some of the required tasks, e.g. putting clothes into the washing machines, cannot be automated and have to be executed by humans, the collision free operation and cooperation of such diagnostics robots with the human operators is an essential aspect.
The goal of this experiment was the design and the assembly of a mobile manipulation robot which is able to solve these tasks. The mobile robot has been equipped with a 7 degree-of-freedom robotic arm and gripper as well as several 3-D sensors for observing the environment. Advanced processing routines allows the robot to detect obstacles such as open washing machine doors, clothes lying on the floor or humans blocking its path, to adapt mobile platform and arm movements accordingly and thus, ensure its successful, collision-free operation among the human operators.
InterAID robot sensors (microphone and 2D camera)
InterAID robot in a testing environment: turning a knob (left) and opening the door (right)
User interface for programming robot task