Energid Technologies and MobileRobots Inc gave robot developers at the second annual national RoboDevelopment conference in Santa Clara CA a sneak preview of their new semi-autonomous mobile robotic manipulation system. The new platform, code-named “Dactyl” for the bird-like form of the manipulator, combines MobileRobots autonomous PatrolBot and MobileEyes robot control interface with Energid’s Actin arm and advanced manipulation control interface. Dactyl brings many robot applications closer to reality: help for the disabled and the elderly, as well as remote manipulation, repair and installation tasks in hazardous or distant sites.
To use Dactyl, a person drives the robot once around the house or space to teach it where it will work. The robot then downloads its map of the space onto the person’s PC. The person can add regular pick-up and drop-off points to the map, if desired, or just click anywhere in it with MobileRobots’ MobileEyes software. The robot drives autonomously to that point and sends back a notice to the PC that it’s ready to pick something up. Then Energid’s Actin arm interface takes over and lets a person simply pull the tip of the arm in simulation onscreen, while watching the target object through Actin camera and MobileEyes map views. The real arm and robot platform, meanwhile, use a combination of Energid and MobileRobots software to move into position together as a single device, avoiding obstacles to the robot as they do so.
Manipulation with mobile robots has been problematic until now. Fully tele-operated robots are slow and exhausting to operate. Reliable autonomous manipulation is only possible when objects are carefully positioned in known locations. By combining full and guarded autonomy of MobileRobots platform with Energid’s simple-to-use tele-operation combining mobile robot and manipulator motion, the companies have eased the process of remote manipulation dramatically.
Robotics and Machine Vision
MobileRobots Inc plans to offer the Dactyl system for sale to robot developers, integrators, resellers and researchers early in 2009. Dactyl was be seen in action at the Energid booth at RoboDevelopment 2008.
About Energid Technologies
Energid Technologies solves hard problems in robotics and machine vision. Customers include commercial robotics companies, transportation companies, manufacturers, branches of the U.S. Department of Defense, and multiple NASA centers. Founded in 2001, its headquarters are in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It has regional presence in New York, New York; Dallas, Texas; San Diego, California; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; and Chicago, Illinois.