Periodic Reporting for period 3 - FLOBOT (Floor Washing Robot for Professional Users)
Reporting period: 2017-01-01 to 2018-06-30
Overall project objectives are summarised below:
• To develop an autonomous, professional washing machine, ready for real-world use shortly after project completion
• To develop FLOBOT as a robotic system that increases the quality of service and lowers the cost of operation, while preserving competitiveness and respecting workers’ rights & health, abiding to all related regulations
• To integrate low cost solutions for mapping, localisation, autonomous navigation, object detection & human tracking, building on research results and commercial know-how
• To develop user interfaces for easy mission & tasks reprogramming, and remote control of the robot
• To prove the usability of the robot by testing it in 4 real-world use-case scenarios
Conclusions: The FLOBOT has delivered a validated robot prototype that is ready for the last steps towards industrialisation and commercialisation. The system is complemented by a docking station, a tablet user interface and a data management system.
All modules were integrated on the final robot version and the robot was first tested in the lab (WP6) and then used for field validations in 2018. First real-world tests took place in FIMAP’s warehouse. Then, the robot was used for real-world testing in a Carrefour supermarket, in the Lyon airport, in a private cargo warehouse and in the Imola hospital.
FLOBOT has also been quite active in terms of dissemination activities (WP8). It has been presented in several events, including different editions of the IROS conference and the ISSA-Interclean exhibition. Information about the project was published in several newspapers and magazines. The project website & social accounts are regularly updated. A business plan has been successfully prepared and the industrial partners are working towards exploitation of the project results.
Main results include:
TRL 8: ERP interfacing module, qualified and ready for commercial exploitation
TRL 7: Robot hardware, mapping & navigation modules, human tracking module, tablet GUI, proactive safety module, Object & dirt detection modules, docking station & procedure. All of them are ready for exploitation by the commercial partners, requiring relatively small effort for optimisation and full qualification
TRL 6: Environment reasoning module. Module successfully tested. Requires further testing and optimisation before reaching the market, even though, this is an optional module that will not hinder commercialisation of the main FLOBOT system
Regarding human tracking for safety, FLOBOT’s human tracking module is capable of detecting & tracking multiple people. Safety during FLOBOT operation within a complex environment with humans is of primary importance. The solution proposed is the projection of warning signs on floors in an intuitive way, by controlling the position of these signs. The docking station design also includes mechanical design novelties.
FLOBOT is expected to have significant impact on labour aspects. Currently, professional cleaning is a hard labour, low skills job, where competitiveness & profit margin are at the expense of the workers’ conditions. Additionally, about 74% of the people employed in the sector are women and there are difficulties in the recruitment of new personnel. With the adoption of FLOBOT, the worker’s role will evolve from low skills to that of a use & maintenance operator of robotic machines. At the same time, the robot will relief the physically weaker workers from part of the hard labour.
FLOBOT is also expected to support the EU industry producing professional cleaning machines, that has to deal with the highly competitive Asian & American companies. The consortium end-users are large companies that, with the adoption of FLOBOT, will allow the FLOBOT manufacturer to cover an important market share. Furthermore, FLOBOT has already had a great impact in terms of Industry-Academia cross-fertilisation.