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  1. The onset of Industry 4.0 brings a greater demand for Human-Robot Collaboration (HRC) in manufacturing. This has led to a critical need for bridging the sensing and AI with the mechanical-n-physical necessities to successfully augment the robot’s awareness and intelligence. In a HRC work cell, options for sensors to detect human joint locations vary greatly in complexity, usability, and cost. In this paper, the use of depth cameras is explored, since they are a relatively low-cost option that does not require users to wear extra sensing hardware. Herein, the Google Media Pipe (BlazePose) and OpenPose skeleton tracking software packages are used to estimate the pixel coordinates of each human joint in images from depth cameras. The depth at each pixel is then used with the joint pixel coordinates to generate the 3D joint locations of the skeleton. In comparing these skeleton trackers, this paper also presents a novel method of combining the skeleton that the trackers generate from each camera’s data utilizing a quaternion/link-length representation of the skeleton. Results show that the overall mean and standard deviation in position error between the fused skeleton and target locations was lower compared to the skeletons resulting directly from each camera’s data.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available June 27, 2023
  2. This paper develops a predictive collision detection algorithm for enhancing safety while respecting productivity in a Human Robot Collaborative (HRC) setting that operates on outputs from a Computer Vision (CV) environmental monitor. This prediction can trigger reactive and proactive robot action. The algorithm is designed to address two key challenges: 1) outputs from CV techniques are often highly noisy and incomplete due to occlusions and other factors, and 2) human tracking CV approaches typically provide a minimal set of points on the human. This noisy set of points must be augmented to define a high-fidelity model of the human’s predicted spatial and temporal occupancy. A filter is applied to decrease sensitivity of the algorithm to errors in the CV predictions. Kinematics of the human are leveraged to infer a full model of the human from a set of, at most, 18 points, and transform them into a point cloud occupying the swept volume of the human’s motion. This form can then quickly be compared with a compatible robot model for collision detection. Timed tests show that creation of human and robot models, and the subsequent collision check occurs in less than 30 ms on average, making this algorithm real-time capable.
  3. Industry 4.0 projects ubiquitous collaborative robots in smart factories of the future, particularly in assembly and material handling. To ensure efficient and safe human-robot collaborative interactions, this paper presents a novel algorithm for estimating Risk of Passage (ROP) a robot incurs by passing between dynamic obstacles (humans, moving equipment, etc.). This paper posits that robot trajectory durations will be shorter and safer if the robot can react proactively to predicted collision between a robot and human worker before it occurs, compared to reacting when it is imminent. I.e., if the risk that obstacles may prohibit robot passage at a future time in the robot’s trajectory is greater than a user defined risk limit, then an Obstacle Pair Volume (OPV), encompassing the obstacles at that time, is added to the planning scene. Results found from simulation show that an ROP algorithm can be trained in ∼120 workcell cycles. Further, it is demonstrated that when a trained ROP algorithm introduces an OPV, trajectory durations are shorter compared to those avoiding obstacles without the introduction of an OPV. The use of ROP estimation with addition of OPV allows workcells to operate proactively smoother with shorter cycle times in the presence of unforeseen obstacles.
  4. Abstract To enable safe and effective human–robot collaboration (HRC) in smart manufacturing, seamless integration of sensing, cognition, and prediction into the robot controller is critical for real-time awareness, response, and communication inside a heterogeneous environment (robots, humans, and equipment). The specific research objective is to provide the robot Proactive Adaptive Collaboration Intelligence (PACI) and switching logic within its control architecture in order to give the robot the ability to optimally and dynamically adapt its motions, given a priori knowledge and predefined execution plans for its assigned tasks. The challenge lies in augmenting the robot’s decision-making process to have greater situation awareness and to yield smart robot behaviors/reactions when subject to different levels of human–robot interaction, while maintaining safety and production efficiency. Robot reactive behaviors were achieved via cost function-based switching logic activating the best suited high-level controller. The PACI’s underlying segmentation and switching logic framework is demonstrated to yield a high degree of modularity and flexibility. The performance of the developed control structure subjected to different levels of human–robot interactions was validated in a simulated environment. Open-loop commands were sent to the physical e.DO robot to demonstrate how the proposed framework would behave in a real application.
  5. As demands on manufacturing rapidly evolve, flexible manufacturing is becoming more essential for acquiring the necessary productivity to remain competitive. An innovative approach to flexible manufacturing is the introduction of fenceless robotic manufacturing cells to acquire and leverage greater human-robot collaboration (HRC). This involves operations in which a human and a robot share a space, complete tasks together, and interact with each other. Such operations, however, pose serious safety concerns. Before HRC can become a viable possibility, robots must be capable of safely operating within and responding to events in dynamic environments. Furthermore, the robot must be able to do this quickly during online operation. This paper outlines an algorithm for predictive collision detection. This algorithm gives the robot the ability to look ahead at its trajectory, and the trajectories of other bodies in its environment and predict potential collisions. The algorithm approximates a continuous swept volume of any articulated body along its trajectory by taking only a few time sequential samples of the predicted orientations of the body and creating surfaces that patch the orientations together with Coons patches. Run time data collected on this algorithm suggest that the algorithm can accurately predict future collisions in under 30 ms.
  6. To enable safe and effective human-robot collaboration (HRC) in smart manufacturing, seamless integration of sensing, cognition and prediction into the robot controller is critical for real-time awareness, response and communication inside a heterogeneous environment (robots, humans, equipment). The specific research objective is to provide the robot Proactive Adaptive Collaboration Intelligence (PACI) and switching logic within its control architecture in order to give the robot the ability to optimally and dynamically adapt its motions, given a priori knowledge and predefined execution plans for its assigned tasks. The challenge lies in augmenting the robot’s decision-making process to have greater situation awareness and to yield smart robot behaviors/reactions when subject to different levels of human-robot interaction, while maintaining safety and production efficiency. Robot reactive behaviors were achieved via cost function-based switching logic activating the best suited high-level controller. The PACI’s underlying segmentation and switching logic framework is demonstrated to yield a high degree of modularity and flexibility. The performance of the developed control structure subjected to different levels of human-robot interactions was validated in a simulated environment. Open-loop commands were sent to the physical e.DO robot to demonstrate how the proposed framework would behave in a real application.
  7. Robots and humans closely working together within dynamic environments must be able to continuously look ahead and identify potential collisions within their ever-changing environment. To enable the robot to act upon such situational awareness, its controller requires an iterative collision detection capability that will allow for computationally efficient Proactive Adaptive Collaboration Intelligence (PACI) to ensure safe interactions. In this paper, an algorithm is developed to evaluate a robot’s trajectory, evaluate the dynamic environment that the robot operates in, and predict collisions between the robot and dynamic obstacles in its environment. This algorithm takes as input the joint motion data of predefined robot execution plans and constructs a sweep of the robot’s instantaneous poses throughout time. The sweep models the trajectory as a point cloud containing all locations occupied by the robot and the time at which they will be occupied. To reduce the computational burden, Coons patches are leveraged to approximate the robot’s instantaneous poses. In parallel, the algorithm creates a similar sweep to model any human(s) and other obstacles being tracked in the operating environment. Overlaying temporal mapping of the sweeps reveals anticipated collisions that will occur if the robot-human do not proactively modify their motion. The algorithm ismore »designed to feed into a segmentation and switching logic framework and provide real-time proactive-n-reactive behavior for different levels of human-robot interactions, while maintaining safety and production efficiency. To evaluate the predictive collision detection approach, multiple test cases are presented to quantify the computational speed and accuracy in predicting collisions.« less