Industrial Electronics

Video: MIT develops a robot that can dress you

15 July 2021

Researchers from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) have developed a new algorithm that allows a robot enough motion to give assistance to someone putting on clothes.

The team tested the robot by having it help put a jacket on a human, but the long-term potential of the robot could be to help those with disabilities or limited mobility.

“Developing algorithms to prevent physical harm without unnecessarily impacting the task efficiency is a critical challenge,” said Shen Li, MIT PhD student who led the research. “By allowing robots to make non-harmful impact with humans, our method can find efficient robot trajectories to dress the human with a safety guarantee.”

The MIT team started by determining how to properly model human movement, reactions and response to enable robot motion during human-robot interactions. A robot can attain fluent interaction if the human model is perfect, however, there is no flawless blueprint in humans.

If a robot was shipped to a home and needed a flawless blueprint, it would have a very narrow model to follow. Tasked with dressing, this become even harder as the robot would be based solely on the default model and bump into a human, possibly injuring them.

The MIT algorithm instead allows the robot to understand many possible models and mimic how a human can understand other humans. And as the robot gathers more data about its subject, the better it refines these models.

“This multifaceted approach combines set theory, human-aware safety constraints, human motion prediction, and feedback control for safe human-robot interaction,” said Zackory Erickson, assistant professor in The Robotics Institute at Carnegie Mellon University. “This research could potentially be applied to a wide variety of assistive robotics scenarios, towards the ultimate goal of enabling robots to provide safer physical assistance to people with disabilities.”

To contact the author of this article, email PBrown@globalspec.com


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