Bots2ReC, robotic extraction of asbestos fibres from buildings

Europe has paid a high price for asbestos, with over 100 000 related deaths. First in line in the fight to free buildings from asbestos contamination, workers in the construction sector could soon find a helping hand in the form of an AI-piloted robotic system.

The constant and multifaceted evolution of society has left very few industries unchanged. For most sectors, this has meant moving towards increased automation. Most, but not all. One unyielding sector has largely stayed true to its old ways: the construction sector. For the past 200 years, the same repetitive, standardised, and physically challenging construction tasks have been performed by workers with their own two hands. But this could change soon thanks to projects as Bots2ReC (Robots to Re-Construction). The reasoning behind Bots2ReC is simple: some tasks are simply too hazardous for humans to perform, and machines could easily replace them. “Besides the exposure, some processes or the materials handled in those processes generate health hazards in the form of dust, vibration, noise or toxic substances. It is precisely for these tasks that we could expect great benefits from – and also show the massive potential of – automation to achieve sustainable socio-ecological improvements,” says Tobias Haschke, coordinator of the project on behalf of RWTH Aachen University.

Tailored to construction sector needs

To enable such automation, the project consortium first had to overcome barriers related to the nature of the construction sector. Whereas most industries manufacture in a defined environment, the construction industry has historically had to cope with a continuously changing environment with varying rules and procedures. As Haschke explains: “The key to success lies in the technical control of this constant change.” Recent developments in computer science, storage systems and sensors were key enablers that set Bots2ReC in motion. They enabled the introduction of semi-autonomous solutions through mobile handling of environment complexity. Over a span of 3 years, the project team developed a robotic system capable of handling asbestos removal on construction sites. “The robot operates asbestos removal comprehensively and not just piece by piece. Thanks to its AI capabilities, it is also tailor-made to be used under real conditions,” Haschke explains. “The AI combines a tailored lightweight data format for environmental representation with a complex planning module. As a result, it can provide a scalable system in terms of fleet size and it automatically adapts to the floor plans at hand”. Most tests of the Bots2ReC were carried out with a grinding disk to reflect the actual process of asbestos removal. This helped the team understand and subsequently control the complex mechanisms of such interaction. Furthermore, the system was examined for its suitability for use in normal residential buildings, and tested in various room and floor plan constellations. The results are promising, with basic accessibility reaching almost 90 % of the wall surfaces of a general dwelling. A direct comparison to manual work is still pending and will be implemented in the follow-up of the project.

The greatest achievement

“To me, our greatest achievement is the robot itself. Its design and mode of operation are tailored to the requirements of the construction industry, and its design method is unique. This is reflected in the processable ceiling height of 3 m, which is simultaneously paired with an arm payload of 20 kg and continuous power supply via the mobile, omni-directional tandem system,” Haschke explains. The project has already generated attention in the construction industry, both for its complete robotic system and for its components.

Although Bots2ReC was completed in November 2019, the team has been investigating further developments of grinding processes, planning logic and radar technology since then. These are already in demand and should be commercialised within the next 2 years. “We are especially proud of the products that have been decoupled during the project and are already available on the market in the form of two mobile robots at Robotnik Automation (RB-2 BASE and Summit XL Steel),  and various improved radar sensors from indurad GmbH,” Haschke notes. With its focus on asbestos, Bots2ReC is well placed to reduce the future health burden on workers. There is little doubt that the cost of the technology will easily be counterbalanced by its high social benefit and economic efficiency. The project could be adapted for the removal of other hazardous products, such as lead paint.

Robotnik and Itera collaborate in the development of the "Symphony"

Research and development of intelligent technology management system with multifunctional capabilities for operational improvement in the industry project. Supported by the Valencian Agency of Innovation, the objective of this project is the development of the technologies necessary to have robots and mobile manipulators easy to integrate and use. These technologies include advanced robot and operator location systems, cloud fleet management and planning systems, new quality control systems and parameter calibration. This project has been supported by the AVI (Valencian Agency of Innovation) and has the collaboration of the technological institutes Ai2 (Industrial Automation and Computing) and ITI (Technological Institute of Informatics).


Autonomous robotics to implement precision agriculture

Inside the iDRONE project, funded by IVACE, AINIA has developed a model of precision agriculture based on hyperspectral vision sensors, unmanned flight devices (drones and autonomous robots) and the application of Artificial Intelligence techniques and Big data analytics.

The application of these advanced technologies in the tasks of the field will allow the farmer to apply phytosanitary treatments to each plant or crop according to their needs, or decide the optimal time of collection selectively, among other advantages.

The contribution of Robotnik to the project is the Summit XL autonomous robot, customized with the corresponding sensorization and that has been used in various R&D projects focused on precision agriculture.

More information:

Article in Robohub about the AIDE project

Robohub notes to the results of the project AIDE, which develops an automated wheelchair with an exoskeleton robotic arm for use in the home. The idea is that the next-generation of wheelchairs could incorporate brain-controlled robotic arms and rentable add-on motors in order to help people with disabilities more easily carry out daily tasks or get around a city. The automated wheelchair uses artificial intelligence to extract relevant information from the user, such as their behaviour, intentions and emotional state, and also analyses its environmental surroundings.

Read the full article here .

What is SWARM Logistics Assistant?

SWARM Logistics Assistant comes up from H2020 CPSwarm project. In it, Robotnik contributes with its knowledge in Cyber Phisical Systems. Robotnik has large experience in ROS, software used by all their robots, furthermore in the simulation software. The project has several mobile platforms from Robotnik, which are working to supporting the workers in tedious tasks in a warehouse.

The robots also make a scanner of the warehouse work space and share this information to updating the data base in real time. Likewise, the robots also collect additional information related to matters such as the ambient temperature, the presence of human beings, the detection of obstacles along the way, etc.

In the following video you can see the feasibility and effectiveness of the project:



DLR: Swarm Navigation and Exploration for Gas Source Localization with SUMMIT-XL

DLR demonstrates at this video a navigation system and exploration strategy for a multi-robot system (several units of the SUMMIT-XL),with the goal to find unknown gas sources. The system was developed at the Institute of Communication and Navigation at the German Aerospace Center (DLR). This work was partially supported within VALLES MARINERIS EXPLORER - an Initiative of DLR Space Administration.

More info

The Robotnik I-SUPPORT project appears on CORDIS

CORDIS, the online platform of information dedicated to the research, development and innovation activities of the EU, has published an article about the I-SUPPORT project in which Robotnik has participated.

Rafael López, R&D Manager at Robotnik, led the I-SUPPORT team to develop an advanced, safe and independent system that can assist in tasks such as washing, scrubbing, rinsing, and getting to hard-to-reach body parts with easy-to-use commands through voice and intuitive gestures.

Read article→

The Emerging Spring of Artificial Intelligence

Robotnik has a very long track record of participations in EU research projects. Since 2004 we are collaborating with different institutions and companies on the development of state-of-the-art robotic platforms for many different applications, such as border surveillance, firefighting, tunnel inspection or swarming behaviours.

The last EU research project, started on July 2018 and with a total duration of 36 months, means a new challenge for the company, since it is based on a joint collaboration between the European Commission and the Korean government (Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning, MSIP). Under such collaboration both European and Korean institutions and companies are taking part on a project called DECENTER: Decentralised technologies for orchestrated cloud-to-edge intelligence.

The emerging spring of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will enable innovative applications exploiting the myriad of connected sensors and appliances embedded in every corner of modern life. Currently, AI requires high computational resources only available in high-performance data centres; therefore, realizing an architecture capable of securely processing this unprecedented amount of remotely sensed and potentially sensitive data, as well as conveying timely responses to pervasive configurable actuators is a non-trivial endeavour, requiring the cooperation of multiple parties. To address these challenges, DECENTER aims to realise a robust Fog Computing platform, covering the whole Cloud-to-Things Continuum, that will provide AI application-aware orchestration and provisioning of resources. The project will enrich existing Cloud and IoT solutions with advanced capabilities to abstract features and process data closer to where it is produced. DECENTER will enable a collaborative environment in which multiple stakeholders (Cloud and IoT providers) can securely share and harmoniously manage resources, in dynamically created multi-cloud/edge, federated environments. Cross-border infrastructure federation will be realized via Blockchain-based Smart Contracts defining customized Service Level Agreements, used to commit the execution of verified workloads across multiple, potentially remote, administrative domains.

Through such novelties, DECENTER will unlock the potential of innovative decentralised AI algorithms and models, by deploying them across multiple tiers of the infrastructure and federated clouds. The project will follow a lean implementation methodology and validate its concept with real-world pilots executed in urban, industrial and home environments.

Within DECENTER, Robotnik will develop a logistic use case, that will test a new, cost-effective, robotic indoor transport solution that will be specially suited for warehouses and will automate the transport process and free workforce for tasks that entail higher added value. To this end, the use case will permit the incorporation of a swarm of RB1-BASE robots into the cloud/edge system services, allowing enhancing its functionality by the use of Edge Computing and a centralized Cloud.

The European project Bots2ReC aims the removal of asbestos from old buildings


Bots2Rec robots will reduce time and expense, in addition to minimizing human exposure to asbestos.

​The aim of Bots2reC is to validate a process for the automatic elimination of asbestos contamination in the rehabilitation of buildings. Nowadays, asbestos is present in many old buildings in Europe, although today it's prohibited because it's considered toxic. To do this removal work, a mobile robot manipulator with abrasive and suction tools is used. Its implementation will allow to reduce the cost and the time of the process as well as minimize human exposure to this construction material.

Robotnik and other six partners participate in this EU Horizon 2020 project.

More info:


Robotnik helps improve the autonomy of people with disabilities through the AIDE project

The main objective of the AIDE project is to contribute to the improvement of the user-technology interface in order to increase the degree of independence of the user.

Coordinated by the Department of Systems Engineering and Automation of the Miguel Hernández University (UMH), Nicolás García, and finance by the Horizon 2020 program of the European Union. The program involves institutions and companies from Italy, Germany, Great Britain and Spain , including Robotnik, which has collaborated in the design and manufacture of the Summit-XL STEEL mobile robot and that is the basis of the robotic wheelchair on which the project is centered.

Specifically, it is a wheelchair that through sensors is able to move autonomously or controlled by the user. The chair incorporates an exoskeleton, a robotic arm coupled to the arm and hand, which has sensors that facilitate mobility to the user, enabling him to grab and move objects.

The novelty of this robotic application is that it allows people with different degrees of disability to recover movements to eat, drink and wash, as well as move and improve communication with family and friends, using standard Internet services such as email, Skype, WhatsApp and social networks.

The AIDE system is a project of the European Horizon 2020 program and has been evaluated by 17 people with different degrees of disability at the Cedar Foundation in Belfast (United Kingdom) with excellent results.