In the summer of 2008 and 2009, I was involved full-time in two European Framework projects on cognitive robotics, CoSy and CogX.
CoSy (Cognitive Systems for Cognitive Assistants) was an EU FP6 project with the goal of advancing “..the science of cognitive systems through a multi-disciplinary investigation of requirements, design options and trade-offs for human-like, autonomous, integrated, physical (eg., robot) systems..“
Each of the seven partner universities was engaged in specific research areas like locomotion and mapping, spatial organization, linguistic modeling etc. The results from these research areas eventually needed to be integrated into a single physical robotic platform.
I was involved in the project during its final months, with the specific task of aiding systems integration. This involved managing the lifecycle of the various robot subsystems (motion, vision, …), ensuring that they could communicate smoothly with each other and that the overall robot behavior matched expectations.
The tasks involved heavy hands-on work with the Linux platform, sensors, distributed processes, memory, timing issues, communication bandwidths etc. I also did bits of coding where necessary, for example writing device drivers for the pan-tilt camera mount.
Robot platform for CogX
CogX (Cognitive Systems that Self-Understand and Self-Extend) was a European FP7 project. In some ways, it was an extension of the CoSy project. However, CogX required a new physical robot platform on which the project’s theoretical research could be implemented.
My task was to develop a physical robot platform to meet the project’s requirements. The requirements included mobility, manipulation capabilities, stereo vision, scanning laser sensors and multiple computers. The design had to be modular so that physical parts could be swapped in/out as necessary, require minimum custom parts and be easy to take apart, transport and re-assemble.
I developed a platform with a mobile base and a lightweight superstructure. Also included was a 5 axes robot arm for manipulating objects on low tables.
Six identical platforms were manufactured and used for the subsequent four years at each of the partner universities.
The assembly guide for the robot platform is available.