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How to use MoveIT to develop a robotic manipulation application

European Commission funded HR-Recycler project aims at developing a hybrid human-robot collaborative environment for the disassembly of electronic waste. Humans and robots will be working collaboratively sharing different manipulation tasks. One of these tasks takes place in the disassembly area where electronic components are sorted by type into their corresponding boxes. 

An easy-to-use robotic manipulation platform

To speed up the component sorting task Robotnik is developing a mobile robotic manipulator that needs to pick boxes filled with disassembled components from the workbenches and transport them either to their final destination or to further processing areas. MoveIt is an open-source robotic manipulation platform that allows you to develop complex manipulation applications using ROS. 

Here, a brief summary showing how we used MoveIt functionalities to develop a pick and place application will be presented.

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Figure 1: Pick and Place task visual description.

Features and benefits of MoveIT

We found MoveIt to be very useful in the early stages of developing a robotic manipulation application. It allowed us to decide on the environment setup, whether our robot is capable of performing the manipulation actions we need it to perform in that setup, how to arrange the setup for the best performance, how to design the components of the workspace the robot has to interact with so that they allow for the correct completion of the manipulation actions needed in the application. 

Workspace layout

MoveIt allows you to build the planning scene environment using mesh objects previously designed in any cad program and allows your robot to interact with them. 

With MoveIt you can plan towards any goal position not only taking into account the environment scene by avoiding objects but also interacting with it by grabbing objects and including them in the planning process. Any MoveIt scene Collision Object can be attached to the desired robot link, MoveIt will then allow collisions between that link and the object, once attached the object will move together with the robot’s link. 

Figure 2: MoveIt Planning Scene with collision objects (green) and attached objects (purple).

This functionality helped us determine from the very beginning whether our robot arm was able to reach objects in a table with a certain height, how far away from the table should the robot position to reach the objects properly, is there enough space to perform the arm movements it needs to perform to manipulate objects around the workspace area. It also helped us design the boxes needed for the task, allowing us to decide on the correct box size that will allow the robot arm to perform the necessary manipulation movements given the restricted working area.  

Motion Planning

MoveIt includes various tools that allow you to perform motion planning to the desired pose with high flexibility, you can adjust the motion planning algorithm to your application to obtain the best performance. This is very useful because it allows you to restrict your robot’s allowed motion to fit very specific criteria, which is an application like ours, with a restricted working space where the robot needs to manipulate objects precisely in an environment shared with humans is very important.

Figure 3: Planning to the desired goal taking into account collisions with the scene.

One of the biggest motion requirements we have is the need for the robot arm to maintain the boxes parallel to the ground when manipulating them as they will be filled with objects that need to be carried between work stations. To plan using constraints can be easily done with MoveIt.

There are various constraints that can be applied, the ones we found more useful for our application are joint constraints and orientation constraints. 

  • With Orientation constraints you can restrict the desired orientation of a robot link, they are very useful to maintain the robot’s end-effector parallel to the ground, needed to manipulate the boxes properly. 
  • Joint constraints limit the position of a joint to be within a certain bound, they are very useful to shape the way you want your robot to move, in our application it allowed us to move the arm maintaining a relative position between the elbow and shoulder, performing more natural movements and avoiding potentially dangerous motions.
Figure 4: Motion Planning with joint and orientation constraints vs without.

Another useful MoveIt motion planning tool is to plan movements to a goal position both in Cartesian and in Joint Space, allowing you to switch between these two options for different desired trajectory outcomes. 

  • Cartesian Space planning is used whenever you want to follow a very precise motion with the end effector link. In our application, we made use of these functions when moving down from the box approach position to the grab position and back again. Our robot has to carry the boxes with it, and due to limited space on its base area, all of the boxes are quite close together, using Cartesian planning we could assure we are maintaining verticality while raising the box from its holder avoiding latching between boxes and unnecessary stops. 
  • Joint Space planning is however useful to obtain more natural trajectories when the arm is moving between different grabbing positions making movement smoother. 
Figure 5: Motion Planning in Cartesian Space vs Joint Space.

This is just a brief summary of how we used MoveIt to develop a preliminary robotic pick and place manipulation application, there are still lots of different tools that MoveIt has to offer. Some of MoveIt’s most advanced applications include integrating 3D sensors to build a perception layer used for object recognition in pick and place tasks or using deep learning algorithms for grasp pose generation, areas that will be explored in the next steps. 

Stay tuned for future updates in the development of a robotic manipulation application using MoveIt’s latest implementations. 

Down below you will find a short demonstration of the currently developed application running on a Robotnik’s RB-KAIROS mobile manipulator.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JgyDB57xjDw


How can a SUMMIT-XL STEEL make easier the development of your R&D?

Have you ever wondered how Robotnik can help the development of your R&D? If so, here's an example: the mobile platform SUMMIT-XL STEEL Robotnik is highly configurable. In it, a wide range of sensors can be integrated, actuators and robotic arms, making it an ideal robot for the development of industrial or R&D projects.

An example of this is the work of the IIT (Italian Institute of Technology), where the robot MOCA (Collaborative MObile robotic Assistant), born of the combination of the collaborative platform SUMMIT-XL STEEL and a Franca Emika arm.

With this robot, IIT has developed a case-study project to face the challenges of human-robot collaboration. The biggest advantage offered by collaborative robots lies in the opportunity to combine accuracy, strength and power of automation with flexibility, experience and cognitive abilities of humans.

ITT has implemented a strategy for navigation control to make the robot move in a virtual laboratory area, avoiding obstacles either static and mobile (including concurrent partners) and to reach the location of collaborative human partner.

The following video results are observed. As soon as the human subject is ready to perform the task, he/she slightly raises the arm holding the drill and the location of the subject in the workspace is automatically sent to MOCA, which starts to approach. At the end of the navigation phase, MOCA gets stopped before the subject at a predefined distance and collaboration phase begins.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=31&v=6UPgc_5t8Rs

If you want further information about how Robotnik's robots can help you achieving your research and development projects’ goals, you can get in touch now with our experts in mobile collaborative robots and start configuring your platform or mobile manipulator .


Today we are present on Telecinco news!

And it is that in Robotnik we are very proud of our ELI autonomous shopping cart, which is showed today by the Telecinco news website in an article that talks about the shopping experience of the future and the big data, the artificial intelligence and products like our ELI shopping cart.

 

Read the full post 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:

 

 


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 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:

Press

https://www.lavanguardia.com/vida/20180711/45833031849/expertos-crean-un-robot-autonomo-para-desmantelar-estructuras-de-amianto.html

https://innovadores.larazon.es/es/not/un-robot-autonomo-para-desmantelar-estructuras-de-amianto


E-mart introduces Eli, the autonomous shopping cart developed by Robotnik

E-mart, a Korean chain operator, has just presented an autonomous shopping cart: Eli. This autonomous and collaborative shopping cart has been developed by Robotnik in collaboration with its partner Gaitech Robotics.

Eli shopping cart has functions such as autonomous navigation, tracking of people, avoidance of obstacles and automatic payment, among others.

More information:

Antena 3

Julia en la onda, Onda Cero (Min. 43:50)

La Razón

ABC

Innovadores, La Razón

La Vanguardia

Las Provincias

20 minutos

Aquí en la onda C.Valenciana, Onda Cero (Min.27:25)

Europa Press

iProfesional 

CV Radio (Min.51:57)

Aragón radio

 


Robots to Re-Construction (BOTS2Rec)

The goal of BOTS2Rec is introducing, testing and validating an operational process for the automated removal of asbestos contamination at a real world rehabilitation site using a robotic system.

Take a look to the Project video! →


These robots will save our fields from the danger of pesticides

Future robots would spray pesticides only on plants that need them, unlike current practices that waste up to 99% of plant protection products because they cover the entire field.

 

More information →


Robotics enabled the Spanish vineyard to optimize its competitiveness and sustainability

The Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Environment (Mapama), specified by resolution of August 10, 2017, the granting of the subsidy for the creation of the supra-autonomous operational group called “Applications and use of Robotics in the management of Vineyard ”(Acronym ROBODRONVI), within the framework of the National Rural Development Program and in the relationship with the European Association for Innovation in agricultural productivity and sustainability (AEI-AGRI). ROBODRONVI, is a Strategic Reflection Operational Group that was created with the aim of promoting the application of robotics (air and land) as a tool that facilitates operational decision-making in wine farms by winegrowers and technicians. In addition, this is to improve the competitiveness, profitability and sustainability of the Spanish wine sector.

 

More info →