The overall goal of the BMBF-funded project NaRKo ("Compliant Service Robots for Hospital Logistics", Jan. 2016 - Dec. 2018) was the development of a compliant service robot that can interact directly and safely with humans.
For this service robot "NaRKo", a compliant, omnidirectional (i.e. moving in all directions, including sideways) robot platform was built, which can detect external forces by the use of whole-body sensors, which is also suitable for moving heavy loads, can be used modularly in various applications, and is nevertheless inexpensive.
The service robot is intended to move autonomously through a sparsely pre-structured workspace with varying degrees of passenger traffic, so that the work processes of the persons are disturbed only slightly or not at all: By using force controls for the compliant movement of the robot, it should be made so safe that it can enter into physical contact with people without any danger and react intelligently to such contact.
Even when transporting heavy loads, the transport system should remain compliant so that it can be pushed aside intuitively and easily by a user, such as a caregiver, if it blocks the way. This intelligent reaction requires a second key function, situation recognition, which is able to detect the situation around the robot and in particular to recognize and follow people in it with their movement patterns.
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