RoPHa: Robust perception to interactively support elderly users with manipulation tasks in domestic environments

© Fraunhofer IPA
Helping a user with restricted mobility at the dining table requires robust perception and manipulation skills.

In short

The RoPHa research project intended to further develop the skills of service robots so that they can perform everyday manipulation tasks in a safe and interactive manner. The developed functions have been implemented on the service robot Care-O-bot 4 to enable it to prepare food e.g. by cutting or sprinkling it, and to bring pieces of food in front of the user’s mouth.

 

In detail

Service and assistance robots that support the elderly and people in need of care offer the potential to increase the independence of those affected and thus counteract the demographic change. Robots are a real help, especially if they can provide active assistance in everyday situations.

The research project "Robust perception to interactively support elderly users with manipulation tasks in domestic environments” (RoPHa) aimed at extending the capabilities of interactive assistance robots so that they can perform everyday manipulation tasks safely in complex and dynamic environments. In particular, robot perception had to become robust to uncertain and inaccurate information.

The technologies developed have been implemented on the service robot Care-O-bot 4. As a use case we chose the support of the user during food consumption. The robot was enabled to prepare food e.g. by cutting or sprinkling it, and to bring pieces of food in front of the user’s mouth. The technical feasibility and usefulness of the implemented support functions was evaluated successfully during tests with end user representatives.

Project partners

  • Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation IPA (Coordination)
  • Roboception GmbH
  • ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH
  • University of Bremen, Institute for Artificial Intelligence
     

Integration as subcontractor:

  • Evangelische Altenheimat Foundation
  • Interaktionswerk/Glückler, Graef, Gronbach GbR

Project overview

Project period 01/07/2017 – 30/06/2020
Project volume
EUR 2.60 million (80% of which funded by BMBF)

 

Robust perception for the interactive support with manipulation tasks (RoPHa)

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The video shows the results of the German research project RoPHa. Within the project, the partners developed technologies for two application scenarios with the service robot Care-O-bot 4in order to support people in need of help when eating. On the one hand, technologies have been developed to help with food consumption. To do this, the user selects the desired food on a tablet PC. The robot recognizes the food on the table in front of it, takes a portion on a spoon and guides it towards the mouth. On the other hand, software components were developed for preparatory tasks. For this purpose, Care-O-bot 4 again recognizes and locates food and ingredients on the table and can, for example, sprinkle a wafer and then cut it with its two “hands“. Since the software and control components are modular, they can quickly be used for many application scenarios with other hardware.