Blog Hr-Recycler workshop “Shared workspace between humans and robots”
The Hr-Recycler workshop “Shared workspace between humans and robots” took place on the 28th of July 2020 hosted at the 9th edition of the Living Machines international conference on biomimetics and biohybrid systems. http://livingmachinesconference.eu/2020/
The aim of this Hr-Recycler workshop was to present and discuss together with scientific and industrial stakeholders novel technological approaches that facilitate the collaboration between robots and humans towards solving challenging tasks in a shared working space without fences.
Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) has been recently introduced in industrial environments, where the fast and precise, but at the same time dangerous, traditional industrial robots have started being replaced with industrial collaborative robots. The rationale behind the selection of the latter is to combine the endurance and precision of the robot with the dexterity and problem-solving ability of humans. An advantage of industrial collaborative robots (or cobots) is that they can coexist with humans without the need to be kept behind fences. Cobots can be utilised in numerous industrial tasks for automated parts assembly, disassembly, inspection, and co-manipulation.
Embedded in the most exciting environment provided but the Living Machines conference, one of the foremost conferences on robotics in the world, the HR-Recycler workshop was attended by about 50 participants and covered topics related to Smart mechatronics, Computer vision in robot-assisted tasks, Human-robot collaboration, Safety in the workspace. In addition, the workshop not only leveraged on the results of the EU-funded project HR-Recycler (https://www.hr-recycler.eu/), which introduces the use of industrial collaborative robots for disassembling WEEE devices, but also welcomed contributions from projects in industrial collaborative robotics as well as the broader research community. The other EU projects involved in the workshop were Rossini (http://www.rossini-project.com), COLLABORATE (collaborate-project.eu) and SHAREWORK (https://sharework-project.eu/)
What all projects have in common is the use of industrial robots that collaborate with humans while performing assembly and disassembly tasks. The overarching goal of these projects is to improve the overall productivity of a hybrid cell (which includes humans and robots), where ultimately, the human will assume a supervisory role, thus decreasing their cognitive load and fatigue and increasing their free time. Here, the human, safe operation, and adaptability are key components for a successful Human-Robot Collaboration task.
As highlighted during the workshop’s presentations and discussion, the human worker is central to all the participating projects. When developing systems with collaborative robotic agents, the human-related factors need to be included, as they may influence the quality of the robotic operations. An important aspect that was raised during the workshop is the need for new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) to measure the HRC ergonomics. Participants also acknowledged the value of systematically evaluating the performance between humans and robots, as well as the perceived collaboration from the human workers. Ethics were also discussed, as all systems should operate taking into consideration the regulatory, legal, ethical and societal challenges of robotics in industrial automation. Human safety is essential, and participants reflected on the challenge that rises is the trade-off between performance, accuracy and safe operation. Finally, to develop collaborative systems that will interact with a variety of users in dynamic settings, their design should include a dynamic adaptation to both the operator and the environment.
Although the time of the workshop was limited, a lot of interesting and crucial topics arose for a safe and successful Human-Robot Collaboration. These fruitful discussions not only brought forward the current challenges that this field is facing, but also the opportunity and necessity for the relevant stakeholders to meet, discuss, exchange ideas and collaborate.
We hope to be part of more similar events!
– Apostolos Axenopoulos: Centre for Research and Technology Hellas – Information Technologies Institute
– Dimitrios Giakoumis: Centre for Research and Technology Hellas – Information Technologies Institute
– Eva Salgado: Etxebarria, Tecnalia
– Vicky Vouloutsi, Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), SPECS -Lab,
– Anna Mura: Institute for Bioengineering of Catalonia (IBEC), SPECS -Lab,