Mobility disabilities are prevalent in our ageing society and impede activities important for the independent living of elderly people and their quality of life. MOBOT project is about supporting human mobility and thus enforcing fitness and vitality by developing intelligent robotic platforms designed to provide user-centred and natural support for ambulating in indoor environments. We envision the design of cognitive mobile robotic systems that can monitor and understand specific forms of human activity, in order to deduce what the human needs are, in terms of mobility. The goal is to provide user- and context-adaptive active support and ambulation assistance to elderly users, and generally to individuals with specific forms of moderate to mild walking impairment.
To achieve such a goal for the development of an efficient and intelligent robotic assistant, a variety of multimodal interaction and cognitive control functionalities must be embedded, so that the robot can autonomously reason about how to provide optimal support to the user whenever and wherever needed. In particular, MOBOT aims to design and deliver a cognitive mobility-aid robot that can act both: (a) proactively, by realizing autonomous and context-specific monitoring of human activities and by subsequently reasoning on meaningful user behavioural patterns; and (b) adaptively and interactively, by analysing multi-sensory and physiological signals related to gait and postural stability, and by performing adaptive compliance control for optimal physical support and active fall prevention.
MOBOT will create advanced perception, reasoning and control modules, focusing particularly on: (a) Developing a multimodal human-action recognition system, fusing computer vision techniques with other sensory modalities, including range sensor images, haptic information, as well as command-level speech and gesture recognition; (b) Conducting data-driven multimodal human behaviour analysis to extract behavioural patterns of users, in order to design a multimodal human-robot communication system and to systemically synthesise mobility assistance models that take into consideration safety-critical requirements; and (c) Designing and implementing a behaviour-based, cognitive robot control architecture, which will incorporate contextual reasoning and planning, guiding the robot mechanisms to provide situation-adapted optimal assistance to users.
Direct involvement of end-user groups will ensure that actual user needs are addressed by the prototype platforms. Extensive user trials will be conducted to evaluate and benchmark the overall system and to demonstrate the vital role of MOBOT technologies for Europe’s service robotics.
MOBOT impact in terms of Advanced Robotics Functionalities:
MOBOT will create and deliver two robotic platforms that will be able to perform a set of advanced assistive actions currently not achieved by state-of-the-art approaches. These advanced robotic functionalities and assistance tasks that the MOBOT platforms will be able to achieve are centred along two main axes:
The two platforms will be equipped with a series of sensors, actuators, and human-system interfaces, including visual, laser scanner, force and tactile sensors. In the first half of MOBOT we will mainly focus on the design and control of the rollator-type mobility assistant. In the second half of the project our attention will shift progressively to the nurse-type mobility assistant, while the rollator-type assistant will undergo detailed user evaluation studies.
To achieve MOBOTs targets and to reflect the increasing demand in walking assistance with increasing age or progressive diseases, MOBOT will target two different mobility assistance platforms, as shown in the drawings below.
Expected Scientific Contribution:
To develop the MOBOT platforms, significant scientific and technological advances must be achieved in a number of research areas, particularly integrating a set of advanced perception, reasoning and robot control capabilities. Expected major scientific contributions of MOBOT in these areas are: