Service Robots

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Running projects

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Europa2 - European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant 2.0

European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant 2.0

EUROPA2 - European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant 2.0 is a project funded by the European Commission within FP7. The goal of the EUROPA2 project is to develop the foundations for service robots designed to autonomously navigate in urban environments to provide various services to users including guidance, delivery, and transportation.



Completed projects

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Bacs - Bayesian Approach to Cognitive Systems

Bayesian Approach to Cognitive Systems

Contemporary robots and other cognitive artifacts are not yet ready to autonomously operate in complex real world environments. One of the major reasons for this failure in creating cognitive situated systems is the difficulty in the handling of incomplete knowledge and uncertainty.

By taking up inspiration from the brains of mammals, including humans, the BACS project will investigate and apply Bayesian models and approaches in order to develop artificial cognitive systems that can carry out complex tasks in real world environments. The Bayesian approach will be used to model different levels of brain function within a coherent framework, from neural functions up to complex behaviors. The Bayesian models will be validated and adapted as necessary according to neuro-physiological data from rats and humans and through psychophysical experiments on humans. The Bayesian approach will also be used to develop four artificial cognitive systems concerned with (i) autonomous navigation, (ii) multi-modal perception and reconstruction of the environment, (iii) semantic facial motion tracking, and (iv) human body motion recognition and behavior analysis. The conducted research shall result in a consistent Bayesian framework offering enhanced tools for probabilistic reasoning in complex real world situations. The performance will be demonstrated through its applications to driver assistant systems and 3D mapping, both very complex real world tasks.

COGNIRON - Cognitive Probabilistic Representation of Space for Mobile Robots

Description of the project

The overall objectives of this project are to study the perceptual, representational, reasoning and learning capabilities of embodied robots in human centered environments. The project develops methods and technologies for the construction of such cognitive robots, able to evolve and grow their capacities in close interaction with humans in an open-ended fashion. 

Expected results are basic methods, algorithms and architectures and their integration and long-term experimentation and scientific evaluation on embodied robotic systems in different settings and situations. 

In the focus of this research endeavor, is the development of a robot whose ultimate task is to serve humans as a companion in their daily life. The robot is not only considered as a ready-made device but as an artificial creature, which improves its capabilities in a continuous process of acquiring new knowledge and skills. 

Besides the necessary functions for sensing, moving and acting, such a robot will exhibit the cognitive capacities enabling it to focus its attention, to understand the spatial and dynamic structure of its environment and to interact with it, to exhibit a social behavior and communicate with other agents and with humans at the appropriate level of abstraction according to context. 

The design of the cognitive functions of this artificial creature and the study and development of the continuous learning, training and education process in the course of which it will mature to a true companion, are the central research themes of the project. 

Research Area within project (Spatial Cognition and Multimodal Situational Awareness)

To address the understanding of how an embodied system can come to a conceptualization of sensory-motor data, generate plans and actions to navigate and manipulate in typical home settings. The concept formation is considered in a broad sense, i.e. the ability to interpret situations, i.e. states of the environment and relationships between components of the environment that are static or evolving over time. The robot can observe these states or be part of the evolving action itself. 

The robot will use different sensing modalities, and can also act in order to improve its understanding of the situation or to disambiguate its interpretation. 

The following questions will be studied within the framework 
the representation of space 
the representation of situations 
the representation and recognition of objects 
dynamics and actions 

Please see the project poster (PDF, 272 KB) for more details. The abstract (PDF, 39 KB) of my thesis should provide a quick overview of the entire work. You can also find more details in a thesis summary presentation that I have made online here (PDF, 1.4 MB). Finally, the papers below have the most detailed presentation of the ideas.


Europa - European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant

European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant

Project poster (PDF, 1.2 MB)

EUROPA - European Robotic Pedestrian Assistant is a project funded by the European Commission within FP7. The goal of the EUROPA project is to develop the foundations for service robots designed to autonomously navigate in urban environments outdoors as well as in shopping malls and shops to provide various services to users including guidance, delivery, and transportation. 


In the field of robotics, there has recently been a tremendous progress in the development of autonomous robots that offer various services to their users. Typical services include support of elderly people, cleaning, transportation and delivery tasks, exploration of inaccessible hazardous environments, or surveillance. Most of the systems developed so far, however, are restricted to indoor scenarios, non-urban outdoor environments, or road usage with cars. There is serious lack of capabilities of mobile robots to navigate safely in highly populated outdoor environments. This ability, however, is a key competence for a series of robotic applications.

The goal of the EUROPA project is to bridge this gap and to develop the foundations for service robots designed to autonomously navigate in urban environments outdoors as well as in shopping malls and shops to provide various services to users including guidance, delivery, and transportation. EUROPA will develop and apply sophisticated probabilistic scene interpretation techniques to deal with the unpredictable and changing environments. Based on data gathered with its sensors, the robot will acquire a detailed model of the environment, detect and track moving objects in the environment, adapt its navigation behavior according to the current situation, and communicate with its users in a natural way, even remotely. Key innovations of the project are made by robustly and reliable addressing the autonomous navigation problem in complex and populated environments, the ability to build appropriatespatial models, and by reasoning about them based on the verbal and natural interaction with users. EUROPA is targeted at developing novel technologies that will open new perspectives for commercial applications of service robots in the future.

To validate the concepts developed in the project, the EUROPA robot will be deployed in populated urban environments such as the downtown area of Zurich, Switzerland, to solve a series of tasks including transportation and guidance. 


Albert Ludwigs University of Freiburg - Autonomous Intelligent Systems Lab The autonomous intelligent systems (AIS) lab of the University of Freiburg is concerned with techniques for autonomous navigation, state estimation, and control in the context of mobile robotics and artificial intelligence. One of the major research areas covered by this lab is mobile robot navigation.

Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich - Autonomous Systems Lab The Autonomous Systems Lab (ASL) at the Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule Zurich ETHZ is an internationally renowned research lab in the field of autonomous robot design and navigation. It has a large experience in the design and autonomous navigation of wheeled and flying autonomous robots for different kinds of environments.

KU Leuven - Center for the Processing of Speech and Images The team of KU Leuven that will work on the project is part of the Center for the Processing of Speech and Images (PSI), one of the units within the department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT). This team - VISICS (VISion for Industry, Communications, and Services) - is specialized in computer vision and its applications, and focuses on the sub-domains of 3D acquisition and modeling, as well as on object and object class recognition.

University of Oxford -Mobile Robotics & Computational Linguistics Group Two groups of the University of Oxford, namely the Mobile Robotics Group (MRG) and the Computational Linguistics Group (CLG) are involved in EUROPA. The MRG has an international reputation in the area of robot navigation especially when it comes to operating in outdoor environments with well engineered vehicles and complex real-time software. Complementing the information theoretic research within MRG, the group possesses a strong culture of in-field experimental validation. The CLG at Oxford provides an environment in which postdoctoral workers and doctoral students work together on a wide variety of projects including several FP6 projects. The CLG has good connections with related groups in the university, including Robotics, Linguistics and Phonetics, as well as the nearby Sharp Research labs. Much recent work has combined traditional, knowledge-based approaches with statistical and machine learning methods.

BlueBotics BlueBotics SA is a Swiss SME located in Lausanne. It is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL) founded in 2001 with the mission to market innovative and promising mobile robotics technologies. BlueBotics's domain of expertise covers the engineering of mechatronic systems including integration, design, prototyping, and production. BlueBotics has full control over the development of the whole range of products, allowing for rapid reaction to custom requirements with competitive prices.

RWTH Aachen University - Mobile Multimedia Group The Mobile Multimedia group at RWTH Aachen University has been newly founded with the goal of performing basic research and developing applications in visual object recognition and tracking from mobile devices and robotic platforms.

Robots@home - An Open Platform for Home Robotics

RoboX - The Tour Guide Robot Robotics @ expo.02

The Tour Guide Robot Robotics @ expo.02

They are mobile, they can find you, they can talk to you and ask you questions. They can interact with you, see you, they seem to be intelligent. They explain the exhibits to you, show you around, they can introduce you to their colleagues and to robotics researchers on site. And they are interested in what you think about them. Robotics is an exposition project for expo.02, the Swiss National Exhibition, May-October 2002.

It is the biggest project of its kind ever realized. Eleven fully autonomous personal robots will interact with hundred of thousands of visitors during six months, seven days a week, ten hours per day. Robotics is an exposition project about the decreasing distance between robotic technology and man. Industrial robots, as the pioneering and now economically successful robotics branch, is about to be followed by the next generation: personal robots. 

They enter domestic and emotional domains and develop affective relations to their users. And the last, final step in this succession is also already made: Cyborg robotics, the fusion of robotic technology and the human body. Robots become biocompatible.

URUS - The Tour Guide Robot Robotics @ expo.02

Ubiquitous Networking Robotics in Urban Settings

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