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Multi-modal Human-machine Collaboration

With the trend of employing humans and robots in common manufacturing space, the need for deeper research of human robot collaboration (HRC) increased in the past years. PPM is performing research on following main HRC related topics:

Safety: The common denominator between the approaches to solve the safety issue in human-robot collaboration today is the robots reactive response to danger. With these approaches, the robot becomes a passive contributor towards safety as it only reacts on simple commands set by the human integrator such as, keeping a minimum separation or reduce the speed when in the proximity of the human operator. This passive approach reduces the robots ability to plan and make task-related decisions, as it has no means of including safety related issues in its decisions. Therefore, the entire responsibility for the safety lies on the human integrator and human operator. A goal for safe human-robot collaboration should be robots that actively make decisions not to harm human beings. A robotic system that decides its action also on the basis of safety, and actively avoids actions that could harm the human, would take some of the responsibility for the safety in the collaboration. The robot would this way share this responsibility with the human operator and relieve some of the pressure from the operator. This way he can focus more on the task, rather than  the safety. Based on this, we propose a system for safe human-robot collaboration with Responsible Robots.

Multi-modality: There is a challenge to obtain the same high flexibility for a robot compared to a human worker. This has put the research on intelligent sensor systems to try to give the robot partly the same senses as a human worker. Examples are vision, tactile sensor or force control. PPM is exploring possibilities how these senses can be used to communicate with local and remote robot operators.