We have often spoken about cobots, i.e. collaborative robots designed to interact and facilitate tiring and exhausting activities carried out by human employees in a single shared workspace. Well, some researchers from the Italian Institute of Technology in Genoa are now working to develop a language that facilitates interaction and collaboration no longer between man and machine, rather between two robots. Having defined the equations of cognitive and motor intelligence that regulate the joint movement of two robots, the researchers have made a humanoid robot help another robot stand up. How?
«The robot - as recently explained by Daniele Pucci, the IIT Scientific Director - understands that the other robot is standing up because it can exchange information, through a wireless connection, on its position, effort and rapidity of movement: fundamental information which allows the other robot to intervene when the efforts of its ‘mechanical’ partner are perceived as excessive».
The experiment of the Institute in Genoa is part of the project Advancing Anticipatory Behaviors in Dyadic Human-Robot Collaboration, better known as An.Dy promoted by the European Community and the European Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, Horizon 2020, designed to develop robots that can adapt to different contexts: from small and medium-sized enterprises to industries up to domestic environments.
There are still many issues to be solved in order to ensure personal safety in case of our actual collaboration with these cobots, but these experiments are fuelling curious minds and visionaries. The labour world will be radically changed when cobots are finally able to work safely alongside men. We need, however, to acknowledge that this transformation is underway: the risk is that technology will move faster than our ability to adapt.