Our team has been hard at work on developments that we believe will push the boundaries of what is possible within current robotics research trends. This work was initiated in part thanks to various European Collaborative projects we take part in. We have been working on a new robot mobile manipulator with significant advancements in mobile manipulation, and we’re proud to present our latest developments -TIAGo Pro – read on to find out more!
TIAGo Pro’s innovations revolve around fully torque-controlled arms and placement that will enhance the robot’s manipulation capabilities, along with state/of the art Human/Robot Interaction abilities.
The robot aims to target the needs of agile manufacturing yet still has human-centric qualities to work with humans side by side. Through our developments, we aim to take a step forward in our efforts to enhance productivity, and open doors to academics in Industry 5.0, and in the future, healthcare.
The starting point: TIAGo mobile manipulator and growing the robot family
The starting point for the new robot, TIAGo Pro, has been TIAGo robot – originally developed by PAL Robotics in 2015 and nowadays one of Europe’s most popular platforms for mobile manipulation research and applications across Europe and beyond. TIAGo Pro will become the newest member of the TIAGo robot family, made up of various customisable robots including robots with one arm, two arms, and/or a touchscreen.
The latest R&D efforts: hardware upgrades including fully torque-controllable arms and a boost in HRI capabilities
TIAGo Pro is still a mobile manipulator with the capabilities of navigation, perception, and manipulation, along with HRI. However, the robot represents significant upgrades to TIAGo to meet research trends and needs in mobile manipulation, with major hardware upgrades including:
- Fully torque-controllable arms at joint level with brakes at each joint
- An EtherCAT communication bus with high bandwidth
- Brand new electronics architecture including increased computational power.
In more detail, these updates are:
- A new version of the robotic arm, with 7 Degrees of Freedom, now sequential, joint torque sensing through Series Elastic Elements, a 1KHz EtherCAT bus to assure high joint torque bandwidth, and a placement to enhance TIAGo’s current workspace
- Fully custom electronics, designed at PAL Robotics to maximise the impact of the hardware improvements
- Enhanced computational capabilities to handle the Machine-Learning-based algorithms
- A boost in the robot’s HRI capacities for a human-centric approach to the deployment of the platform on the shop floor.
Optimal arm mounting on TIAGo Pro
With the new design, along with the arm technology itself, the bi-manual workspace of the robot has been maximised. The reach of the arm does not only depend on the length of the arms, but also on the kinematics and on how the arm is mounted on the robot.
With the new robot, we have explored a new arm placement to have, firstly, a greater common workspace between the arms, as well as an easy frontal and lateral reach. TIAGo Pro is able to reach objects on the floor and high shelves according to the usual ergonomics requirements for human workers.
The torque-controlled arms also let users have more precise and human-centric manipulation.
Enhanced HRI capabilities: including gaze tracking, face identification and a new chatbot
TIAGo Pro is complete with enhanced HRI capabilities including a user-friendly web user interface, and the robot is fully compatible with ROS 2.
The robot face is able to display a range of emotions for maximum impact and engagement. We have enhanced the robot’s expressiveness: in addition to the existing tools to record and replay gestures, you can also generate a range of eye expressions (such as happy, sad, sceptical, and confused) and smoothly direct the robot’s gaze and eyes in a natural way.
TIAGo Pro will include the novel ROS4HRI ROS specification: it offers a 100% ROS-based representation model of humans, including 2D/3D real-time skeleton tracking, 6D head pose estimation, automatic facial landmark extraction, gaze tracking, and face identification. In addition, included is a novel algorithm for probabilistic data fusion enabling real-time matching of faces, skeletons, and people.
In terms of speech and language processing capabilities, the new robot offers state-of-the-art fully offline speech recognition (ASR) in 20+ languages; a new chatbot engine, off-the-shelf “chit chat” chatbots available in various languages; voice synthesis (Text-to-speech, TTS) with markup support to combine text, gestures and facial expressions; automatic subtitling of both ASR and TTS for added accessibility; and an optional wake-up word detection system that is fully configurable and does not require pre-training.
EU Projects for agrifood and manufacturing that will be early adopters of TIAGo Pro’s features
EU research projects that PAL Robotics takes part in have helped to make these developments possible and will be early adopters of hardware advancements to the TIAGo robot. In these projects, we are adapting the current technology for specific use cases, and to new research trends in mobile manipulation. These projects are –
CANOPIES – this project is the first attempt to introduce a collaborative robot in precision agriculture with the aim that farm workers can work together with teams of robots in table-grape vineyards. In CANOPIES, the robot will carry out the following tasks –
- Precision agriculture in the highly dynamic outdoor environment of permanent crop farming
- Harvesting and pruning of grapes focusing on the approach of Human-Robot Collaboration using Human-Robot Interaction.
AGIMUS – this project aims to deliver open-source breakthrough innovation in AI-powered agile production, enabling general-purpose robots to be quick to set up, autonomous, and adaptable to changes in the manufacturing process. In project AGIMUS, the robot will carry out tasks such as-
- Deburring, which requires accurate detection of holes, the accurate placing of the end-effector, and force control
- Solar array assembly through glueing, which requires visual feedback for control, high accuracy, and surrounding awareness, and
- Handling plastic insertions, that requires the handling of flexible objects.
PILLAR-Robots which aims at developing a new generation of robots endowed with a higher level of autonomy and will implement and validate demonstrators within three different application fields: agri-food, edutainment, and unstructured industrial/retail environments.
To learn about TIAGo Pro and our family of TIAGo robots at PAL Robotics, take a look at our website. If you would like to ask us more about TIAGo Pro, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Stay up-to-date with all of our latest news by regularly visiting our blog.