NaRKo - Nachgiebige Serviceroboter für Krankenhauslogistik (Compliant Service Robots for Logistics in Hospitals)
Service robots which act autonomously in an indoor environment are faced with challenging problems. First of all they need to navigate in crowded environments in social compliant way. Due to small hallways in common hospitals collision free paths can not always be found by classic motion planning algorithms. Even recently invented motion planning algorithms, which incorporate dynamic obstacles as cooperative agents, lead to frozen robot scenarios. This implies that one can not assign tasks to the robot which have a time constraint, which questions the whole service robotics in crowded environments.
In this project we challenge the problem of compliant mobile service robots. Humans typically use the speech and apply small contact forces with their hands to navigate through crowded environments. Our goal is to adopt the later concept, namely to allow human-robot collisions and to incorporate contact forces in the motion planning. Thereby, we use a whole body sensory concept to record the forces. Human use contact forces rarely for navigation, they use highly developed situation analysis techniques to avoid collision. We will use visual perception for detection and tracking of humans and dynamic objects and we will improve existing methods for situation analysis. Fully compliant mobile robotic systems require omni-directional drive. Besides the mobile robotic system should be able to carry heavy weight load like the dishes or hospital beds. In this project we will invent a low cost omni-directional platform, which is scalable and robust.