Service Robot MOBOT-IV


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Autonomous Mobile Robots

Starting in the middle 80th the MOBOT-project aimed at the development of an autonomous mobile robot that is able to explore a previously unknown operational environment and conduct task-specific actions without a central control system, special landmarks or human interaction. Potential applications of this technology are transportation, floor cleaning and surveillance (service robot). The ability to act autonomously makes employment of such vehicles much more flexible compared to conventional track-following driverless transport vehicles or semi-autonomous mobile robots that need a detailed description of the target environment before operation.

An autonomous mobile robot 'learns' the characteristics of the operational area without assistance and adapts dynamically to changes in the environment. The robot independently plans routes to targets, avoids collisions with unexpected obstacles und computes alternative routes if the target cannot be reached on the previously planned path. Special challenges in the development of such systems are methods for robust sensor data processing, self-localization & world-modelling and appropriate strategies for exploration and navigation.

The project goal has been reached with the realization of test vehicle MOBOT-IV which can be employed in office buildings, gymnasiums, hospitals, production areas etc.

Basing on the experiences of the MOBOT-project a new research project (CAROL) aims to open new application fields and to improve robustness and fault-tolerance by applying computer vision and adaptive, learning techniques.



MOBOT-IV is a prototypical realization of an autonomous mobile robot for employment in indoor environments.
For the perception of the environment MOBOT-IV utilizes two laserscanners which provide information about obstacles and the structure of the surrounding area (for more information please check the Technical Overview).
All necessary intelligence is on-board, i.e. all sensor data processing and decision processes are computed by the robot's control system. This is realized by a distributed program system on a parallel VMEbus computer-architecture.
The robot conducts the following tasks in realtime (for more information please check Implementation Details): After having explored the environment MOBOT-IV is equipped with a world-model that allows the planning of routes to given target points. Its component for self-localization enables the robot to reach targets (production stations, docking points, storage, etc) within few millimeters by always providing exact information about the robot's position and orientation. Unexpected obstacles on the planned path will be passed in safe distance.

For more information check Technical Reports and photos of MOBOT-IV

Last modified: 18.08.97, Joachim Weber

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