AR-Enabled Safety and Human-Robot Collaboration in HR-Recycler
CERTH has developed an AR-enabled system to monitor and communicate with robots in the WEEE recycling environment, through the use of optical and projective AR techniques. Such a system is essential in the harsh and noisy industrial WEEE recycling environment, where noise makes vocal communication difficult, and the scale and clutter of the environment pose challenges to achieving overview of the overall process for workers and supervising personnel.
The AR system introduced helps overcome the above challenges and introduce additional safety aspects to the overall process. At the most fundamental level, projective AR is used to indicate to workers the workspaces and intentions of the robots. For instance, the Autonomous Ground Vehicles (AGV) in HR-Recycler include projectors that highlight on the ground the immediate trajectory of the robot, and luminous strips that indicate the intention of the robot to move towards the left or right direction. Similarly, the workstations are equipped with projectors that indicate the workspace of the collaborative robots, as well as current targets for the robots to drop off components extracted from the devices. Projective AR is a ubiquitous technique that does not require the user to wear any equipment and provides an additional degree of safety in the shop floor.
In addition to projective AR, HR-Recycler has developed an optical AR system, where advanced robot supervision and communication is made possible through the use of an AR Head-Mounted Display (HMD). Through the HMD, the user is able to observe the current state and the plan of the robot or send goals for pick-and-place. The navigation plan and planned arm trajectory are visualized in an intuitive manner, overlaid on top of the actual robot, allowing the user to adjust their actions in accordance to the current robot plan. In addition, through registration of the HMD with the robot reference frame, it is possible to detect whether the user has entered the workspace of the robot, and in this case the robot is paused and a warning is presented to the user.
Overall the developed AR system increases safety within the shop floor and improves the overview of the workers and supervisors, thereby improving overall process efficiency.