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Safe and effective HumAn-Robot coopEration toWards a better cOmpetiveness on cuRrent automation lacK manufacturing processes.

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - SHAREWORK (Safe and effective HumAn-Robot coopEration toWards a better cOmpetiveness on cuRrent automation lacK manufacturing processes.)

Reporting period: 2020-05-01 to 2021-10-31

Sharework‘s main objective is to endow an industrial work environment of the necessary “intelligence” and methods for the effective adoption of HRC with not fences. It will provide a system capable of understanding the environment and human actions through knowledge and sensors, future state predictions and with the ability to make a robot act accordingly while human safety is guaranteed and the human-related barriers are overcome.

Given a robot, a worker and tasks to be made, Sharework will be implemented in order to recognize and understand the task which the worker is doing or has to do, and determine the robot actions to help without disturbing, either for bringing a needed tool, holding a heavy piece or anticipating to the next step of the process.

Sharework will develop the needed technology for facing the new production paradigm compiling the necessary developments in a set of modular hardware, software and procedures to face different HRC applications in a systematic and effective way while increasing their overall flexibility and efficiency in terms of throughput and human satisfaction.

The robotic systems integrating Sharework technology will be able to:
Continually select the best tasks to be performed and their timing based on the human task in execution.
Grant human safety, while maintaining itself flexible and efficient.
Observe the worker task, recognize and learn it.
Rely on direct and natural communication interfaces between human and system (such as augmented reality and gestures recognition) enabling the system to inform the human about its next actions and that allows the human to make specific requests to the system.
Perform a continuous evaluation of task execution ergonomics and provide posture corrections to workers.

Sharework aims to contribute to bring back the industrial production to Europe through an increase of productivity and flexibility of HRC on current processes involving manual procedures and/or those involving production of short series of products and those with high variability for which automation is currently presenting high complexity and is not cost-effective.
Furthermore, Sharework will contribute to increase the OECD Job Quality Index through work environment and safety improvement through allowing operators labour to share or delegate the simple and repetitive operations with robots while ensuring safety of the work environment and get additional assistance from the system (e.g. ergonomics suggestions), therefore, reducing pressure, health risks and improving worker satisfaction.
At the end of the first reporting period, the following main results have been achieved:
• Hardware selection for all the use-cases.
• Software architecture definition.
• Development of a domain ontology which considers HRC aspects.
• Development of an object detection and localization algorithm.
• Development of a single-camera single-person tracking algorithm.
• Development of a similarity metric and a modelization algorithm for human motions.
• Characterization of human motion primitives conditioned to objects.
• Development of a parallel-planning feature and decision-value module for the dynamic task planning.
• Development of a human-aware motion planning algorithm.
• Conceptualization of the dynamic risk assesment based on initial safety analysis of all proposed use-cases.
• Shortest distance computing system realized.
• Development and test of a first AR application prototype on HoloLens.
• First development of a real-time human ergonomics check.
• Definition of information to be provided to HR interfaces.
• Identification, for each use-case, of strenghts and points of attention for which Sharework is an oportunitty to test new processes.
Sharework project progress beyond the state-of-the-art by designing and developing a knowledge base capable of supporting all the cognitive processes involved in the controller of the robot by leveraging and extending a suited ontology. This project will solve the semantic cognition in a highly dynamic and complex environment as given in a modern production environment. This environment cognition will also be extended by recognizing and predicting usual human movements and adding its dynamic primitives to the motion library without the need of "teaching" the robot. Sharework will develop a human aware motion planner to be used as an off-line motion planner and as real-time motion planner, exploiting the massive GPU parallelization. Furthermore, Sharework will exploit the latest trends and advances in Augmented Reality (AR) technology and IoT wearable devices towards providing the human operators with the appropriate means during assembly operations in human robot collaborative workplaces. In addition, Sharework will study and validate best practices to improve human-robot collaboration acceptance and satisfaction in industrial environments

Sharework project will have a positive impact to general European industry by developing cost-effective, and easy to adapt and reconfigure solutions for the implementation of collaborative robotic systems. Any company will have access to the developed modules within the project through the possibility to acquire the required modules developed and implement it to their industrial processes, increasing efficiency and productivity. The Sharework framework will impact on the profitability of these manufacturing companies, the majority of which are SMEs, by reducing operational costs. This will result in more job security and direct and indirect job creation in the European manufacturing sector. It will also impact on the employability opportunities. The Sharework framework will have a substantial impact on the environmental performance of manufacturing processes and thus will support European industries to achieve the ambitious goals set in the Europe 2020 strategy for sustainability, resource efficiency and climate and energy targets, and beyond.
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