Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS


CogIMon Report Summary

Project ID: 644727
Funded under: H2020-EU.

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - CogIMon (Cognitive Interaction in Motion)

Reporting period: 2015-02-01 to 2016-01-31

Summary of the context and overall objectives of the project

Humans exploit compliant control in a variety of sophisticated skills. These include solitary actions such as soft catching, soft reception when falling, or sliding and pushing large objects. Also joint actions performed in teams such as manipulation of large-scale objects, or mutual adaptation through physical coupling for learning, in walking and in executing joint tasks display it. We refer to this advanced ability of organizing versatile motion under varying contact and impedance as cognitive compliant interaction in motion.

Compared to the richness and complexity of cognitive compliant interaction in humans, our understanding of the cognitive processes underlying flexible control of mechanical impedance and how to endow robots with it is very shallow. For developing versatile compliant robot interaction behaviour, we need to understand which information is conveyed through physical interaction and how it is used in mutual adaptation. This in turn requires to understand how to build models of changes in the environment induced by various forms of compliant control, how models of impedance in interacting human or robot partners can be formed, and how to predict the partners motion behaviours from their kinematics and the observation of object movements and interaction forces.

Corresponding to the current very limited knowledge in these aspects, compliant interaction in human-robot teams has typically been limited to a narrow set of carefully engineered scenarios where the regulation of impedance is predominantly a means to enable physical teaching or to absorb and ensure stable response against anticipated or unstructured disturbances. Therefore, the overarching objective of the CogIMon project is
to advance key technologies that lead to a step-change in cognitive compliant interaction in human-robot teams. It aims to integrate physical human-robot interaction, visually guided manipulation and safety integrated design in a systematic way.
To achieve this ambitious objective, cognitive modelling, compliance and impedance control, and learning need to be integrated into a coherent approach. The project is centered around three main experimentation scenarios dedicated to the key abilities developed in the project: Compliant catching and throwing with application in physiotherapy, compliant human-humanoid interaction for joint manipulation of larger objects, e.g. carrying a table, and multi human-robot interaction for joint manipulation in an shop floor scenario.

Work performed from the beginning of the project to the end of the period covered by the report and main results achieved so far

The project progresses towards the overall goals along workpackes centered on i) advancing mechatronic designs in particular of the humanoid robot COMAN, ii) following a model-driven software engineering approach to handle complexity of the targeted, highly integrated robotic systems, iii) analyzing human-human interaction in motion to identify and model human control strategies, iv) developing modular approaches for force control and impedance adaptation to facilitate human-robot interaction, v) interpretation and prediction of human motion, vi) integrating and evaluating cognitive interaction in motion in three final robotic experimentations.

In the first year of the project, substantial progress has been made along these lines.
New actuation units are developed that reduce torque offset residuals and yield high resolution torque sensing. A novel hand design that increases the actuator power for the purpose of increasing the speed of grasp closure was conceived. Respective forearms and hands have been mounted on the COMAN robot and enable the performance of soft catching and throwing. In model-driven systems engineering, open-source, dynamics simulations for the target platforms COMAN and KUKA LWR-IV+ have been established that mirror the torque control interfaces of the real robots. Also, models of human motion have been developed to allow for simulation of human-robot interaction. For the model-driven software development, a dedicated toolchain was devised that complies with the requirements of the targeted robotic scenarios.

A second focus was the investigation of human-human interaction in motion. Sensorimotor control strategies for one-handed catching have been investigated in experiments with humans exploiting motion capture systems. Experiments shed light on interpersonal coupling, perception of deceptive movements, and the influence of dynamic variables on the kinematics of juggling. Another set of experiments focussed on synchronization between humans that jointly accomplish a task while being physically coupled, e.g. carrying a table. Based on the observations, models have been devised that display similar synchronization patterns. Also, strategies for adapting impedance in response to an external disturbance during a tracking task performed by two mechanically connected subjects were investigated and compared to bimanual manipulation scenarios.

To implement force control and impedance adaptations new skills were developed. For soft catching, a dynamical system approach was demonstrated on a KUKA IIWA platform mounted with a dexterous hand. In soft catching, the (robotic) hand moves with the object before the hand is closed. For objects that generate elastic contacts, soft catching yields significantly higher success rates (71.6%) with the developed approach compared to hard catching (success rate 1.6%). Towards achieving joint human-humanoid manipulation of larger objects, impedance primitives have been developed for synchronized locomotion. the interpretation and prediction of human motion
has progressed as well.

From the beginning of the project, robotic experimentations have been targeted in order to demonstrate the step-changes towards compliant interaction in motion. Requirements have been assessed to meet the overall targeted technical readiness levels of the final experimentation scenarios. By means of vertical integration, the developed methods are kept compatible and bound to a more general system architecture following the model-driven systems engineering approach as described above. Substantial progress has already been made in the first year in the implementation of bimanual catching and in the development of a virtual reality setup with low-cost sensors for exergaming (games for physical exercises). Also, the learning of manipulator dynamics has been accomplished which is basic skill towards adaptive force/torque control architectures.

Progress beyond the state of the art and expected potential impact (including the socio-economic impact and the wider societal implications of the project so far)

The achieved results in year one advance the current knowledge about human interaction in motion and the state-of-the-art in compliant control. The advancement of the humanoid robot COMAN confirms and extends the world leading position of the European research in the development of variable impedance actuation and compliant humanoid robots. It is expected that the leading technological expertise in compliant actuation and full-body compliant robots will in the medium time-scale create new markets for novel actuation, fully compliant arms, and even full body robots.

Partners have established innovation strategies to deploy novel methods in robotics, manufacturing, healthcare and general industry e.g. through enterprise offices and dedicated transfer labs, which frequently run smaller projects with medium sized companies. Work package three targets to derive measures for naturalness and human-likeness in physical interaction, which will be an important factor for the acceptance of novel assistive and rehabilitation robotics applications. Furthermore, the direct safe and efficient interaction with advanced robots will raise the general level of acceptance and is indispensable for applications in the private realm in the civil or health domain.
The impact to the scientific community unfolds already by contributing to high-ranked journals and scientific conferences. Also, the partners’ principal researchers are all heavily involved in academic teaching, give talks, course and summer schools to educate young researchers.

Related information

Record Number: 190151 / Last updated on: 2016-11-08
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