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Video: A Robot That Helps With Shopping
The Care-O-bot 4 alias Paul robot comes rolling towards Saturn customers at the entrance and warmly welcomes them. If you ask him about a specific product, he accompanies the customer to the department and takes him to the appropriate shelf. In a small talk about the weather or another topic, Paul turns out to be a charming conversation partner. However, he prefers to leave customer advice to his human colleagues, whom he can call for support via Voice over IP. Before Paul says goodbye and rolls back to the entrance, he asks some feedback questions to find out how the interaction with him is received by customers. “With Paul, we offer our customers the opportunity to get to know one of the most advanced robots in the world,” explains Martin Wild,Chief Digital Officer of Media-Saturn-Holding.
Modular design enables many areas of application
Fraunhofer IPA originally developed the prototype of the interactive robot as an assistant robot to actively support people, e.g. B. in the areas of household, hotel, nursing home or hospital. The IPA researchers worked together with the design studio Phoenix Design and the company Schunk for three years to complete their fourth generation. While the predecessors of the Care-O-bot have been used primarily for the development of technological foundations since 1989, the new version as a modular product family offers the basis for commercial solutions for the first time.
Now, with its spin-off "Unity Robotics", the institute is working on designing the application for various fields of application in industry. Saturn is the first customer to use the robot platform in practice. The project will initially take six months, with the knowledge gained from practical experience with customers and employees being incorporated directly into the further development of robot technology. For the Saturn task, the Stuttgart scientists have added additional features to the robot's software and hardware.
"For example, we specified its navigation, dialogic communication and facial expressions and implemented it with the companies Semvox and Phoenix Design", explains project manager Ulrich Reiser. Laser scanners at shin height give him orientation. With his front camera and the "Shore" software developed by Fraunhofer IIS, he can recognize the mood of his counterpart and express his own moods. Microphones for speech recognition and cameras for gesture recognition enable him to communicate.
Care-O-bot 4 accessible to research and industry
The Care-O-bot 4 should not only cut a good figure as a retail assistant. With its modular structure and open software interfaces, the system can be used for a wide range of applications. It would be conceivable, for. B. use as a mobile information kiosk in shops or airports, for pick-up and delivery services in homes or offices, for security applications or as a museum robot for attraction. "We are still interested in the fact that as many scientists and companies as possible work with the system in order to expand its possible uses," says Reiser. As part of the Care-O-bot 4 research platform, experts from all over the world can further develop the software and hardware components.With the spin-off Unity Robotics, the IPA researchers want to adapt the application to the needs of companies and make it available as a commercial product.
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