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Restricting the working area of mobile robots


Abstract

Learning and support system to detect virtual boundaries


Background

Users of mobile robot systems often want to restrict the working area of their mobile robot, such as vacuum cleaner robots or intelligent helpers with gripper arms. For example, in an apartment to exclude sensitive areas such as bathrooms or bedrooms or places that can lead to navigation errors, such as carpets, from the working area; or in industrial environments to avoid manufacturing areas or hazardous zones.


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Solution

Current solutions are based on pure interaction between humans and robots, during which a user explicitly defines these restriction areas, for example by pointing out the boundaries of the area. The more areas you want to define and the larger they are, the more time it takes. This is not user-friendly. But what if the system already knew which areas a user would like to exclude? This is the basis for a new process that significantly reduces the interaction time between humans and robots: By linking intelligent environment detection, self-learning behavior, and augmented reality.

In the new process, the robot system learns from previous user interactions with the help of cameras and the semantic evaluation of the image content, called semantic segmentation. This makes it possible for the system to suggest “virtual” boundaries to the user, which are then displayed by means of an “extended reality unit”. Such virtual boundaries are non-physical boundaries that the robot does not cross and which reliably limit its working area. Augmented reality thus assists the user by suggesting virtual boundaries, significantly reducing the interaction time. This should considerably increase the user-friendliness of this kind of system to restrict the working area of a mobile robot.


Advantages

  • Self-learning system
  • Fast setup
  • Autonomous operation
  • Cost-effective
  • Integration capability

Scope of application

The invention is aimed at manufacturers and developers of mobile robot systems, including transport robots, which can be used in smart home environments or in companies. On behalf of Bielefeld University of Applied Sciences, we offer interested companies the possibility of licensing and the further development of the technology.


Service

Fundamental proof of function is provided and further prototype development is planned. An application has been submitted to the German Patent and Trade Mark Office. The German patent has already been granted and is still in the priority year.


PROvendis GmbH

Martin van Ackeren
+49.208 94105-34
ma@provendis.info
www.provendis.info
Address
Schloßstr. 11-15
45468 Mülheim an der Ruhr



Development status

Proof of concept


Patent situation

  • DE pending

Keywords

Robotic, virtual borders, restriction of a robot´s workspace, learning from user interactions

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