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Results of the Robot Teleoperativo project released to the tech world online !!!
The new robotics result achieved at IIT, in collaboration with INAIL, the Robot Teleoperativo, combines the rugged locomotion of the HyQReal robot with dexterous and powerful manipulation assured by the new INAIL-IIT robotic arm, controlled by immersive 3D immersive VR visualization and the REMOTArm + HEXOTrAc-Plus haptic teleoperation system. It represents a significant contribution to the state-of-the-art robotics dedicated to intervention on unstructured, difficult terrain environments, requiring powerful capabilities. The human operator can always be in control, not being replaced by the robot but substituted and assisted by it, in the case of situations where humans may be exposed to risks for their health, such as disaster response or emergency in nuclear, marine, chemical, oil-&-gas, environments.
The Robot Teleoperativo 2 project is launched !!!
The RT-2 project (short for Robot Teleoperativo 2) is aimed at the advancement of the results achieved at the end of the first phase of the Robot Teleoperativo project. The 3-year second phase of the project started in January 2021 This phase envisages a step-change in the evolution of the design and operational capabilities of the collaborative teleoperation system, dedicated to operation in hazardous environments. Specifically, it aims to:
- Enhance the locomotion capabilities, power autonomy, and energy efficiency of the HyQReal platform
- Boost the FIELD robot platform tele-manipulation capabilities for powerful and dexterous interaction
- Improve the user interaction features through assistive VR \ AR with real-time immersive remote perception
- Advance the operational capacity with more real world trials in collaboration with stakeholders
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In certain work environments, e.g., nuclear, chemical, disaster response, construction/demolition, submarine, there can be extreme risks to the occupational safety and health (OSH) of the workers. Hazards may be present in the form of toxicity, radiation, dangers to potential explosions, exposures to chemicals, etc., where the magnitudes reach a point that human exposure would either represent a direct threat to life or long-term health consequences.
The pie-chart on the right shows the distribution of the OSH risk for each industrial sector. As can be seen, the “Nuclear” sector presents the most risk to the safety of workers. The sectors that follow closely behind are “Oil and Gas”, “Energy”, “Manufacturing”, “Metallurgy”, and “Government Services (Disaster Response)”. These can be considered as the top-6 “vulnerable” sectors.
Robotics can be an obvious solution to mitigate this human risk. Robots not only physically perform most of the tasks, but also, given the cognitive ability, can problem-solve in complex environments. Through substitution, i.e., removing the worker from the unsafe area, an advanced, intelligent system linked to dexterous mobile platforms could form a solution to reduce or eliminate exposure to hazards.
Industrial sector-wise Distribution of Probability for Exposure to Risk
(hover mouse to show sector)
The Robot Teleoperativo project, in collaboration with INAIL (“Istituto Nazionale per l'Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro” - National Institute for Insurance against Workplace Injuries, Italy) CUP J32F17000950005, is aimed at the development of a novel, collaborative teleoperation hardware and software system dedicated to operating in certain hazard-prone industries, reducing the risks to the workers’ safety and well-being. It utilizes, develops, and integrates advanced technologies in tele-locomotion, tele-manipulation, and remote human-robot interaction.
The project builds on the existing technological expertise and capabilities at IIT, and involves THREE distinct research lines, contributing the know-how in locomotion, perception and visualization, manipulation, and teleoperation.
Dynamic Legged Systems
Human Centered Mechatronics
As one of the potential application areas and would-be end-users, the project has established a close working relationship with the Corpo Nazionale dei Vigili del Fuoco (VV.F.) in Genova, Italy. They have helped identify challenge scenarios relevant to VV.F. both in terms of their practicality and the advantages offered through an advanced robotic system such as the Robot Teleoperativo system. The tasks are inspired by the actual activities (both manipulation and navigation) that VV.F. personnel undertake in the normal course of their response to emergencies. The project includes field validation trials and demonstrations of the developed prototypes in close collaboration with VV.F.
The project is built on FOUR key technologies, divided into TWO overall subsystems, as described below. The simultaneous research and exploitation possibilities in the technologies drive the contributions in the project. Below the technologies and their main features - the FIELD robot composed of the INAIL-IIT Robotic Arm and the HyQReal hydraulic quadruped platform; and the PILOT station composed of the REMOTArm + HEXOTrAc-Plus teleoperation platform, combined with the 3D immersive VR visualization interface. <click> on the images in the subsystems to navigate to their dedicated pages.
SUBSYSTEM 1: FIELD robot
Locomotion, Grasping, and Manipulation
The HyQReal hydraulically-driven quadruped robot for locomotion, building on the customization and refinement of the platform for operation in the identified industrial / hazardous test environment.
The novel, multiple degrees-of-freedom INAIL-IIT manipulator arm for grasping and manipulation, capable of attaching task-dedicated end-effectors (e.g., HERI-II hand), and with sufficient power and dexterity.
SUBSYSTEM 2: PILOT station
Haptic Teleoperation and Intuitive Visualization
The HEXOTrAc-Plus hand exoskeleton with tactile and kinesthetic feedback at the fingers haptic telemanipulation. It is integrated with a new 6 degrees-of-freedom REMOTArm device for grounded haptic feedback to the operator.
Novel 3D user interaction interfaces for intuitive visualization, with integrated augmented reality for 3D remote perception, and virtual reality environments for an immersive interaction experience.
The Overall Architecture
The image shows the overall architecture of the Robot Teleoperativo concept, with the various subsystems. As is evident, the solid arrows indicate the inter-connections. The two-sided arrows indicate bi-directional communication and control.