Research Project

ROCOTRANSP: Robot-human collaboration for goods transportation and delivery


National Project

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Project Description

The cities of the future will have to handle new social and economic challenges due to the increase of population (including a huge increase of ageing people), the need of reduction of pollution, the reduction of transportation costs and the design of urban spaces for the use of robots in the cities. The e-commerce has become one important factor in the transport of the last mile and is increasing everyday, and the cities should adequate their public and pedestrian spaces to these new scenarios where people and goods will have to be transported. In a near future, the robots will collaborate with humans in everyday tasks and for this they require more skills and functionalities. Moreover, the urban areas, the buildings and the private houses will have to be designed for the use of robots in everyday tasks.

The main objective of this project is to advance in the design of mobile robots with the capacity to transport and delivery goods to persons in urban areas, but with the emphasis in the collaboration between robots and humans. The navigation and the delivery of goods in urban areas present a number of challenges, which are still open problems, and we will investigate some of them in this project. The robots have to overcome complex navigation issues in diverse street situations, for example, streets semi-blocked due to street repairing, vehicles not well parked that do not allow to reach the delivery place, etc. In some cases pedestrians can help the robot to solve part of these problems, for example collaborating in the exploration of the area for finding the best path or rebuilding the map to include the new street barriers. The transportation of an object or goods side-by-side by a human and a robot or by two robots in urban areas is another very important issue. This transportation faces the problem of the joint transportation and at the same time the spatial geometric configuration of both (the human and the robot or the two robots) to pass in narrow spaces or in presence of people. The handover delivery of goods is another typical human-robot collaborative task. The robot can give an object and the human has to pick it or the human gives an object and the robot has to pick up it. This is a complex delivery that implies joint information of both actors to reach a successful delivery.

Another objective in this project is how the urban areas, the buildings and the houses have to be designed to allow the robots to move and share space with humans. We will investigate the main technologies and public space design that have to be considered for robots to move in urban spaces. A multidisciplinary team of architects and engineers will investigate this objective. In this project we will use the IRI labs, our IRI robots, the humanoids IVO (a double manipulator urban robot), Tibi, Dabo and a transportation robot. Moreover we will use the Barcelona Robot Lab infrastructure to do the validation and experimentation. This project will follow the previous research projects, Robo-In-Coop (DPI2013-42458-P), RoboTaskCoop (DPI2010-17112) and ColRobTransp (DPI2016-78957-R;AEI/FEDER EU), the project Consolider Ingenio 2012 MIPRCV (CSD2007-00018) and the European project URUS (FP6-IST- 045062) where the IP was the coordinator of the project.