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Active Activities with Autonomous Robots

What are the likes and dislikes of robots and what makes them act? On October 15, 2020 F&P Robotics, together with the Swiss Alliance for Data Intensive Services, organized an interactive Robotics workshop. F&P Robotics introduced their products and solutions in the field of professional personal robotics. Their applications can be used in healthcare; for example mobile assistants for elderly care, persons with disabilities and for people in rehabilitation centers. They also create gastronomy robots, i.e bar robotics 

The workshop was made up of four interactive talks, where the participants got to know the robots on a first-name basis. We made our acquaintance with the autonomous assistant robot, Lio, and shook hands with his collaborative robot arm, P-Rob. At the end of the day Barney, the robot bar, made us some drinks. 

Dr. Hansruedi Früh, Managing Director of F&P Robotics, opened the workshop and gave an introduction to cooperative and care robotics. The Care Robot Lio is not a medical device but aims at helping people with special needs while at the same time leaving space for autonomy. Its collaborative robot arm P-Rob can be used for a variety of tasks, for example in the kitchen: you teach him by moving him in accordance to your needs.

After our first introduction to Lio and his P-Rob arm, Rastislav Marko, working with Software and Lio System Development at F&P Robotics, introduced us to the integrated Python scripting language and we got to do some programming exercises via myPⓇ’s browser interface: a web interface that controls Lio. Like all of us, Lio has a calendar when he works, to remind himself of his daily tasks. Lio can recognize people and has a good memory, this means that he can remember that he has seen someone and report this. Lio then proudly demonstrated his skills, singing a song and giving us a quote of the week.

But can a Robot choose how to act? Frederik Zwilling, working with Software Development and Lio Project Management at F&P Robotics, told us about the principles of autonomous behaviour in a robot. They are programmed to make decisions through logical reasoning of knowledge-based systems and common-sense rules. For example, a robot knows that at night you should be silent and let us, the non-robots, sleep.

Dr. Justinas Miseikis, Head of AI at F&P Robotics, told us about the learning principles for voice and face detection. Robots detect faces, usually through pre trained neural networks that are then optimized further, if they are not performing well enough. Although Lio has some trouble understanding people with their face masks – Robots have their own challenges with covid-19!

At the end of the day we got to see demos of the robots. To round off the day, we moved to Baronics AG to have a drink at the Barney Robot Bar where we continued the discussions.

The Workshop was highly interactive and interesting, the participants got to try the coding and communicate with the robots, something most of us don’t get to do everyday. We got an understanding about how robots move and work and exist in the world. The participants agreed that it was a very exceptional opportunity.