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Projects Update

Robo-9: Sensor Fusion Technologies for the Visually Impaired

Travelling individually can be difficult for the Visually Impaired. They encounter various obstacles when going out on their own. To improve their mobility, there are some major kinds of tools and technologies available in the market. For instance, blind canes are used to extend the user's range of tactile sensation, and guide dogs can lead the users to his/her destination and assist them to avoid obstacles and irregularities on the road. However, they are not able to provide point-to-point navigation. While GPS devices can assist the users by providing orientation and navigation information, but this technology is not a replacement for blind canes and guide dogs.

Therefore, LSCM has developed a cost-effective robot vision and sensing solution to provide mobility assistance to the Visually Impaired. The technologies have been developed in the following aspects:

  • Obstacle avoidance and guidance: to perform important functionalities provided by guide dogs
  • Navigation and locationing: to provide guidance for free walking and target destination

This technology can be deployed in the Community to enhance the quality of life of the Visually Impaired.

Intelligent and Integrated Gripper using Multi-sensors and Actuators

Generally speaking, robotic arms and grippers are inseparable when carrying out automatic tasks (e.g. pick and place tasks). Robotic arms are electro-mechanical structures and are programmable to perform repeatable movements/motions (e.g. moving forth and back between point A and B), whilst robotic grippers are usually attached to the tips of robotic arms, which is the “end-effectors”. They could provide accurate locations and orientations to approach the objects that are going to be grasped. Hence, robotic grippers can enhance and enable a high degree of freedom to the manipulation of robotic arms.

There are many types of grippers currently, such as magnetic, pneumatic, and motorised fingers to improve the dexterity, manipulability and flexibility of robotic arms. Motorised grippers (or fingers) are the most common. They are able to grasp the objects with regular and irregular shapes regardless of the object material characteristics/contents. The more the fingers, the higher the dexterity. However, there are different limitations and problems when they perform the object picking tasks.

In this project, LSCM has developed an intelligent and integrated gripper with multiple sensors and actuators for automatic sorting applications. The gripper is able to pick up moving objects and detect its material characteristics (e.g. plastics, paper, etc.), and also pick up objects of irregular shapes. Machine intelligence techniques have been researched and developed to identify the object shapes and orientations for the grasping tasks.

The application of LSCM’s grippers in the object picking and sorting tasks in warehouses and factories, etc. could definitely help to enhance the operation efficiency and cost effectiveness.

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