The Care-O-bot® 3 is a mobile robot assistance system developed by the Fraunhofer IPA. It is capable of navigating independently as well as planning and carrying out complex motion sequences such as pick and place services. The predecessor of this development system is already used today as a trade show or museum guide, a welcome robot, an advertising platform, or for product presentations.
The Fraunhofer IPA uses the development system for research into the performance of service robots. The Care-O-bot® is intended to assist people in their daily life and is suitable for carrying out a wide variety of tasks. It is capable of picking up and passing household objects or a glass of water, providing assistance in gripping, lifting and holding as well as performing simple household tasks such as setting tables, operating household implements and cleaning. It can operate the heating and light switches, as well as open and close doors and windows. As a media manager, it can connect people to the outside world by telephone, TV and interactive media. However, it can also provide mobility assistance to disabled or elderly people and automatically find its way to the destination and around obstacles as an intelligent companion.
Some central robotics components used in the Care-O-bot® 3 are from SCHUNK's modular system. The arm used is the modular light-weight arm LWA 3. In contrast to classic robot arms, this offers seven degrees of freedom and therefore resembles a human arm in terms of its mobility. The use of solid materials permits a high nominal load capacity of 5 kg, while thanks to its light weight and the outstanding ratio between its load capacity and its inherent weight it is especially suitable for use in mobile systems. All the joint functions are stored in the electronic control unit of the joint modules as macros, which means the LWA 3 also significantly reduces the complexity of the control system. The joints are configured as quill drives, which allow cables to be routed inside the arm in a protected manner.
The LWA 3 has a standard adaption on the wrist for mounting gripping systems. The Fraunhofer IPA has used the SCHUNK gripping hand SDH for the Care-O-bot® 3. This is an extraordinarily flexible gripping instrument that is suitable for different shapes and weights of typical household objects such as cups, plates or glasses, and additionally possesses tactile sensors.
The Care-O-bot® 3 uses a mobile sensor head for position orientation and object recognition. This head carries two cameras and an IR illumination system. It is equipped with two type PW tilt-and-swivel modules to allow the sensor head to swivel precisely and for accurately determining distances. These modules give both the head and the entire torso a high degree of mobility.
For household tasks, the Care-O-bot® 3 is equipped with a removable service tray that can be swiveled to the side using a PRL rotary module from SCHUNK. Any objects such as glasses can be placed on this tray. In addition, a touchscreen is integrated in the tray for operating and controlling the Care-O-bot® 3 as well as allowing mobile Internet access.