In spite of the open-endedness of the task domain of human-scale mobile manipulation tasks, the Robohow project will focus on investigating two application scenarios for evaluation: Everyday manipulation for meal preparation, and a humanoid robot providing daily office service. The rational behind focussing on simple meal preparation and office services tasks is to keep the implementation efforts feasible, while not at all restricting the scientific results of the project.
Meal preparation tasks
Cooking is one of the typical daily household activities where robots can assist people. Lots of recipes can be found on the web. These recipes include mostly a list of items that are needed as well as a detailed description of preparation steps. Often recipes are accompanied by demonstration videos.
For example, when making an omelette, the robot assists people by fetching the needed items (e.g. eggs) and by performing basic cooking routines (e.g. cracking the eggs). Required food items and utensils are located by the robot through its semantic environment model telling the robot, for example, that eggs are typically stored in a fridge. The robot is able to fetch the different classes of objects from their locations while handling them in the right way, meaning that the robot decides on how much force to apply when grasping a raw egg or how to hold an open container that is filled with water. Furthermore, the robot performs basic cooking routines which it has learned from video instructions like “how to crack an egg” or “how to separate an egg”.
Providing daily office service
Office services are an application scenario in which robots could provide valuable assistance to humans in highly unstructured working environments. Manuals for challenging daily manipulation activities, such as cleaning of a coffee machine or reloading the paper tray of an office printer, are available on the web and can be exploited by the programming methodology proposed by the Robohow project.