Enabling robots for direct physical interaction and cooperation with humans and potentially unknown environments has been one of the primary goals of robotics research over decades. I will outline how our work on human-centered robot design, control and planning may let robots for humans become a commodity in our near-future society and has already led to the first truly human-centered commercial robot.
The primary objective of a robot's action around humans is to ensure that even in case of malfunction or user errors no human shall be harmed, neither its surrounding be damaged, i.e. "A robot may not injure a human being or(, through inaction,) allow a human being to come to harm". For this, compliant and impedance controlled ultra-lightweight systems serve as the "safe robot body", enabling high-performance human assistance over a wide variety of application domains. These may range from industrial assembly and manufacturing co-workers to healthcare helpers in everyone's home, as well as neurally controlled assistive devices. Based on such smart mechatronics design and control, a robot needs the skills to perceive and manipulate its surrounding and to intuitively interact with the human, involving the discrimination between success and failure in those processes. For this, truly human-safe and context based unified force-sensitive motion and interaction controls with according reactions to unforeseen events, partly inspired by the human motor control system, become essential. Finally, I will discuss recent work on enabling robots to protect their own existence based on the concept of an artifical robot nervous system that is inspired by human pain research.
Sami Haddadin is Full Professor and Director of the Institute of Automatic Control (IRT) at Leibniz University Hanover (LUH), Germany. Until 2014 he was Scientific Coordinator for "Terrestrial Assistance Systems" and "Human-Centered Robotics" at the DLR Robotics and Mechatronics Center. He was a visiting scholar at Stanford University in 2011 and a consulting scientist of Willow Garage, Inc., Palo Alto until 2013. He received degrees in Electrical Engineering (2006), Computer Science (2009), and Technology Management (2008) from TUM and LMU, respectively. He obtained his PhD with summa cum laude from RWTH Aachen in 2011. His research topics include physical Human-Robot Interaction, nonlinear robot control, real-time motion planning, real-time task and reflex planning, robot learning, optimal control, human motor control, variable impedance actuation, neuro-prosthetics, and safety in robotics. He was in the program/organization committee of several international robotics conferences and a guest editor of IJRR. He is an associate editor of the IEEE Transactions on Robotics. He published more than 100 scientific articles in international journals, conferences, and books. He received five best paper and video awards at ICRA/IROS, the 2008 Literati Best Paper Award, the euRobotics Technology Transfer Award 2011, and the 2012 George Giralt Award. He won the IEEE Transactions on Robotics King-Sun Fu Memorial Best Paper Award in 2011 and 2013. He is a recipient of the 2015 IEEE/RAS Early Career Award, the 2015 RSS Early Career Spotlight, the 2015 Alfried Krupp Award for Young Professors and was selected as 2015 Capital Young Elite Leader under 40 in Germany for the domain "Politics, State & Society".