Competence Area "Embodiment"
A key aspect for safe robots is the design of safe hardware as well as basic perception and control functions allowing collision-free motion of mobile service robots in dynamic environments. In spite of some emerging examples, existing robot manipulators are not specifically designed to interact with human operators. Safety is often still addressed by a strict separation of space between the robots and humans. Even though first solutions for interactive industrial robots have been presented, the applied safety measures cannot be transferred to mobile systems directly.
Safe human-robot interaction is of great relevance to industry and research. However, robots could also be potentially dangerous due to uncontrollable, unpredictable or even “intelligent” behaviour – in case they did not fully understand a situation of command or cannot cope with the dynamic structure of their environment.
Advanced scenarios will require humanoid robots able to cope with environments designed for humans. In order to safely operate among humans, perception of the environment is essential. However, due to the complexity of the environment and constraints on the number of sensors that can be integrated in the robot hardware, pure vision-based mapping is often not sufficient. Furthermore, motion planners for mobile manipulators and whole bodies are needed allowing their safe operation among humans integrating new methods for sensor fusion.