Mobile robotics applications

Mobile robotics related applications are one of the most emerging ones on the market, including aerial, ground and underwater variants. This trend is likely to be continued in the near future too, as long as companies such as Google, Bosch, Toyota are heavily interested and investigating into the future autonomous car.

The main components of a mobile robot include the perception, localization&mapping, planning and low lever control parts. Perception is essential in order to receive and interpret the information from the environment. We use different sensors for this, like IMU, stereo camera, 3D laser or the popular kinect camera. Localization&mapping is referring to the ability of the robot to answer the question where am I with respect to some map information. The creation of a map is strongly related to the localization, as these two are related to each other, usually denoted as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) within the robotics. The planning of the robot gives an answer to the question where I go, and how do I get there. This incorporates advanced reasoning and AI methods too. Finally, the low level control translates the higher level planning command to the robot actuators taking into account the kinematic and dynamical model of the device.

We focus on the application side of these techniques using different platforms that we have in our laboratory, mainly developing code within the ROS framework in C++. Special research topics from these applications are treated in the other research directions from our group.

Our open and ongoing projects in this area are listed below, together with a selection of completed projects where relevant.

AIRGUIDE: A Learning Aerial Guide for the Elderly and Disabled

Robotic assistants can greatly improve the life of the ever-increasing elderly and disabled population. However, current efforts in assistive robotics are focused on ground robots and manipulators in controlled, indoor environments. AIRGUIDE will break away from this by exploiting unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and their versatile motion capabilities. Specifically, the project will develop aerial assistive technology for independent mobility of an elderly or disabled person over a wide, outdoor area, via monitoring risks and guiding the person when needed.

3D object recognition with mobile robots - PN3-Innovative-Cheques

The main aim of the project is the application of the techniques developed by the academic partner in the industrial environment from the beneficiary. The developed open-source modules are reusable and they can be adopted to the needs of the industrial beneficial. In order to close the perception-planning loop active perception techniques are proposed to be used also for the mapping application part. 

Active Perception for Flexible Object Handling in Smart Manufacturing

Intelligent object handling is becoming a must in a smart manufacturing system especially with the recent appearance of the motion compliant dual handed industrial robotic systems. Also the enhanced 3D sensing capabilities from the robotics domain enables us to reconsider our view about the smart manufacturing by enabling on the fly spatial perception of the robot working space.

Optimal control of a communicating robot

Mobile robots typically communicate wirelessly, both to receive commands and to provide sensing data. The range of communication is finite and bandwidth varies with the relative position to base wireless antennas, so communication quality is strongly affected by the trajectory of the robot. However, trajectory control design rarely takes this into account. In this project, we aim to design and study a trajectory control strategy that optimally takes into account communication needs of the robot.

Assistive robot arms

Robots that assist elderly or disabled persons in their day-to-day tasks can lead to a huge improvement in quality of life. At ROCON we are pursuing assistive manipulators, as well as UAVs for monitoring at-risk persons. This project focuses on the first direction, and presents a wide range of opportunities for a team of students, starting from low-level control design and vision tasks, to high-level control using artificial intelligence tools. Each student will work on one well-defined subtopic in these areas. Specific tasks include:

Connected Industrial Worker

Augmented Reality is at the stage of becoming a mature commercial technology, attracting interest in a variety of industries. NGi Systems is partnering with UTCN to drive innovation in this field in Cluj-Napoca.

Mapping with mobile robots

The main aim of the project is to develop a robot being able to add semantic 3D information to an indoor map. The developed would be based on existing open-source modules in cooperation with the Braintronix company within a European project.

Currently the company is producing the VIPER mobile platorm for research and development purposes. Within this project, the robot would be augmented with additional 3D sensors in order to facilitate the semantic mapping. 

Assistive autonomous UAVs

Robots that assist elderly or disabled persons in their day-to-day tasks can lead to a huge improvement in quality of life. This project employs UAVs to monitor at-risk persons, and research challenges range from real-time observation and observation to high-level vision and control for person monitoring. The project is appropriate for a team of students, each of them working on a well-defined subtask, such as:

AUF-RO grant: AI methods for the networked control of assistive UAVs (NETASSIST)

This project develops methods for the networked control and sensing for a team of unmanned, assistive aerial vehicles that follows a group of vulnerable persons. On the control side, we consider multiagent and consensus techniques, while on the vision side the focus is egomotion estimation of the UAVs and cooperative tracking of persons with filtering techniques. NETASSIST is an international cooperation project involving the Technical University of Cluj-Napoca in Romania, the University of Szeged in Hungary, and the University of Lorraine at Nancy, France.

Young Teams grant: Handling non-smooth effects in control of real robotic systems

Robotics has a growing impact on our everyday life. Traditional applications are complemented by the integration of robots in the human environment. With the availability of low cost sensors, aerial robotics also became an active area of research. However, many of the practical challenges associated to the real time control of robotic systems are not yet resolved.

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