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Industrial & Service Transformation Latest news

Research X Construction to give bot situational awareness skills

Giving bot new navigation capabilities.

Luxembourg Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT) and construction company Stugalux have entered a three-year research partnership focusing on advancing navigation capabilities of mobile robots for 3D information collection on construction sites.

New SnT project, conducted in cooperation with Luxembourg-based construction company Stugalux, will provide the robotic dog with the ability to navigate autonomously in the construction site without prior site detection solely based on digital models.

The three-year project will add a new advanced situational awareness skill to the robot. This new capability will help the robot to understand Stugalux’s digital building plans and to navigate the construction site by relying solely on measurements from on-board sensors

Artificial intelligence dedicated to robot dog training

The project seeks to build an artificial intelligence that allows the robot to move autonomously around a construction site to supervise the construction process.

Autonomous mobility means that the bot will no longer be remotely operated by a human agent nor will it need to perform and record the walking task beforehand.

Such intelligence means that the robot will be able to read the digital plans of a construction site. It will also understand where it is and move autonomously to acquire the data needed for the project. To continue to navigate as the environment changes, the bot will have to learn continuously from its environment.

Making robot dog more accessible

The research partnership also aims to enable construction staff to use the robot and the data capture process. As such, the technology won’t be available solely to robotics experts. This means that the robot will be more accessible to the property development sector, as it will not require specialist knowledge. By the end of the project, the robot should save time in the construction sector, thus reducing project costs.

Meet the research team

Eduardo Schmidt

Doctoral Reseacher, SnT

Hriday Bavle

 Research Associate, SnT

Jose Luis Sanchez Lopez

Research Scientist

 Prof. Holger Voos

Head of the Automation and Robotics research group.

More about the Automation and Robotics research group.

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Of Robots and Humans: Towards safe cohabitation?

Are robots and humans bound to live in dangerous liaisons or to live happily ever after? Making robots autonomous has been a rising trend in the robotics industry over the past few years. TRANSCEND, a research project funded in the context of the Audacity funding instrument of the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies, is exploring…

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Industrial & Service Transformation Latest news

Of Robots and Humans: Towards safe cohabitation?

Are robots and humans bound to live in dangerous liaisons or to live happily ever after? Making robots autonomous has been a rising trend in the robotics industry over the past few years. TRANSCEND, a research project funded in the context of the Audacity funding instrument of the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies, is exploring this topic.

Led by Profs. Jan Lagerwall and Holger Voos, research project TRANSCEND aims to create the foundation for an infrastructure to keep up with emerging trends in robotics and automation. In the long-run, it seeks to ensure safe cohabitation of robots and humans in everyday contexts.

Bringing robots into human-populated spaces

Autonomous robots are not bound to a particular place, like a factory floor, but can move around by either walking as in humanoid robots, rolling as in driverless cars, or flying as in drones.

Linked to this development is an interest to insert robots into human-populated spaces, like public spaces, offices or hospitals and even homes.

” The reasons for bringing robots into human-populated spaces go well beyond the idea of replacing chores, as is the case with robotic vacuum cleaners. They can provide new and better solutions to problems we encounter in our everyday life, like personal mobility (especially for disabled people), firefighting, delivery of goods, organisation of warehouses (including everything from huge Amazon warehouses to a cloak room at a theatre or conference centre) and so on.”

— Prof. Dr. Holger Voos, University of Luxembourg, Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust

What about ethical and societal questions?

How will our lives and our behaviour be affected by having robots around us all the time? What about personal integrity when you are surrounded by robots who have artificial intelligence and advanced camera systems that can easily recognise and identify you?

TRANSCEND explores a potentially beneficial path to answer these questions at least partially. By developing a new infrastructure of markers only visible to robots, it may be possible to avoid the constant high-definition video filming and AI-based analysis of the environment for robot localisation and navigation as the robots will only need to look for the markers but not the whole scene to determine its own position and orientation. By ensuring that the markers do not identify which person is in the scene, but only identify the human shape as such, personal integrity is strengthened.

At the heart of this new technology are the remarkable optics of Cholesteric Spherical Reflectors (CSRs), a versatile new optical component that exhibits omnidirectional reflectivity in a narrow wavelength band with circular polarisation. This enables detection from any direction even in visually complex and dynamic environments, without false positives.

“By tuning the reflection band outside the visible spectrum, CSRs are undetectable by the human eye, hence aesthetically non-intrusive. We will coat surfaces with CSR-based fiducial markers—effectively invisible QR codes—that link the physical world to its digital representation, allowing Machine-to-Machine (M2M) and Environment-to-Machine (E2M) communication that is reliable, inexpensive and extremely energy efficient”

— Prof. Dr. Jan Lagerwall, University of Luxembourg, Head of the Automatic Control Laboratory

The technology will assist navigation and real-time trajectory optimisation for robots (individual or in swarms), robot-assisted construction and responsible deconstruction and recycling, supporting the circular economy.

The research project starts on 1 September 2021.

TRANSCEND is one of six new interdisciplinary research projects which received multi-year funding in the context of the Audacity funding instrument of the University’s Institute for Advanced Studies.

Excerpts from The future is now – how can humans and robots live together?, published by University of Luxembourg on 5 May 2021.