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Service robots

Assistance in healthcare

The Tiago robot by PAL Robotics provides services in ambient assisted living and light industry fields, with the mission to enhance people’s quality of life. It can navigate autonomously and can help humans in multiple situations.

The robot Tiago (Photo: PAL Robotics)

After twelve years creating humanoid robots, the company’s family is growing in new directions. Tiago – an abbreviation of ‘take it and go’ – is a service robot with autonomous navigation and abilities in perception and manipulation, which enables its collaboration in a variety of tasks. The mobile manipulator’s features make it suitable for fields such as ambient assisted living or light industry. “Tiago was born to make our life better and help us with repetitive, uncomfortable, or heavy tasks” explained the robot’s product manager, Jordi Pagès.

With robots like this, the Barcelona-based company uses all the technical know-how collected in the last twelve years developing complex biped humanoids, such as the 1,65-m high REEM-C. “Robots like Tiago are in all likelihood going to upgrade our life in just a few years, before humanoids do”, remarked Pagès. The robot is designed to fulfill specific tasks that do not require the complexity of a humanoid robot.

Tiago comes with an open-source software and a modular hardware architecture, and is customizable in order to adapt to different purposes. It is suitable for both domestic and industrial environments. In both cases, it needs to interact with people, whereupon it has smart interaction skills with friendly and safe behaviors. Collaborative robots like this make a difference relieving people from heavy or monotonous tasks, and contributing to better health and life conditions. Tiago is appropriate for becoming an interactive tool for light industry, and also a companion at home.

Via a CAN network all motors and sensors of the robot communicate with the PC that controls it. The company’s robots always have more than one CAN interface. Tiago comes with two.

For Industry 4.0

This generation of industrial robots is based on collaborative robots that are useful and safe for workers and can share the same workspace. The industry of the future is going to have robots released from the cages where they are locked nowadays, to be directly used by workers. Those robots relieve people from monotonous, heavy, and uncomfortable tasks, allowing workers to focus on more valued tasks that require human sensory and cognitive capabilities.

The robot is an interactive tool that can be programmed by non-technical industry workers. This mobile platform has an open interface to configure it. On the other side, the hardware architecture is modular and customizable, with optional components such as the sensors or the end-effector, which can be a parallel gripper or a 5-fingered humanoid hand. It is provided with a 7-DoF arm that can lift up to 2 kg with arm stretched. Tiago has a large workspace and reaches from the floor up to 1,75 m. Its 3 DOF wrist can also incorporate a 6-axis force/torque sensor. The arm can be controlled in position, velocity, and effort modes. PAL Robotics’ mobile manipulator works with Ubuntu Linux LTS operating system. Tiago is ROS compatible.

Tiago in action (Photo: PAL Robotics)

Pick and place tasks

The robot is also able to perform pick and place tasks in a supply chain. Through its sensors, it can detect and recognize the item that has to be repeatedly moved to any other part of the chain. The robot can grasp the object and even manipulate it if that is needed. The robot’s autonomous navigation allows to plan which path to follow in order to bring the item to the desired place continuously, avoiding any obstacle on its way.

The robot can be controlled in different ways by the workers to best assist production and has possibilities of teleoperation, from using a joystick up to a leap motion camera. Besides, Tiago can be taught new movements due to a “learning by demonstration” application by PAL Robotics. First, it is set in learning mode: a worker can move the robot’s arm and reproduce the movement that has to be learnt by the robot. After that, it memorizes the sequence and is able to repeat the movement as much as necessary.

Since people and robots share a workspace in Industry 4.0, collaborative robots must be absolutely safe. Tiago’s safeness is ensured through a software application that prevents it from injuring any person, object, or even itself. As soon as it detects a collision the robot automatically turns to gravity-compensation mode, which means that the robot stops, only compensating its weight. In that mode, a person can move the robot to a safe position. In addition, the robot constantly avoids obstacles and people that are detected with its sensors when they are in a certain distance.

Ambient assisted living environments

Tiago is a robot suitable for assisting people in domestic environments. PAL Robotics platform is helpful as a robot companion to improve assisted living and provide care to elderly, dependent, or sick people and thus prolong their independence and increasing their quality of life. The robot can interact with people thanks to its human-robot interaction skills, such as face recognition, speech, and gestures. It can orientate itself and move autonomously in indoor spaces, recognize, and manipulate quotidian objects and interact with people.

Tiago’s assignments can go from being part of a supply chain to bringing a pill to an old person at a specific time (Photo: PAL Robotics)

Combining these features allows the robot to help in situations that are beneficial for people’s life. The robot’s abilities enable it to bring objects to the person, help them with daily activities, and even calling emergency services if needed.

The project Sacro is one example on how the robot can be used in healthcare. PAL Robotics is a partner of the project Sacro, a research project that aims to create a teleoperated robot for healthcare purposes. Professional caregivers will use Tiago to give initial assistance to patients, and it will be teleoperated with a haptic sensor. Sacro is a European funded project under the Eurostars frame through the Spanish Centre for the Development of Industrial Technology (CDTI).

The robot navigates autonomously through space on to its mobile base, with a footprint of ø 54 cm. The robot is able to navigate with its laser, sonars, IMU, and RGB-D camera: it can map, locate itself, and find the easiest path to accomplish the assigned task while avoiding obstacles. Its pan-tilt head has an RGB-D sensor that helps it perceive objects and people with which it can interact. The robot has also stereo microphones and speakers to interact with users. Its working area is enlarged by a lifting torso that allows an increase of the robot height from 110 cm to 145 cm.


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PAL Robotics