Introduction

This RP is a long-term research project that demonstrates and concretizes the results that come out from the other Research Packages. It demonstrates the synergy benefits from the CoE organization in the form of extensive joint demonstrations, where both host organizations will actively work together regardless of the topological distance and the slight difference in their research focuses in the past. The variation in the research histories can be actually considered as a strength, because the institutes have been working at the extreme ends of the same field: ATL has been working with small- and medium-sized field and service robots in various structured and unstructured environments (both indoor and outdoor) and IHA, on the other hand, has vast expertise in working with huge working machines weighing several tons. By combining the knowledge from both fields CoE-GIM has unique expertise comparable to any other top research unit in the world.

The physical distance between the participating institutes will definitely cause some logistical problems, but it can also be considered as a clear asset, because it will make the CoE-GIM face and solve problems inherent to the research field. These challenges include especially issues related to wireless communication and the HMI. At the beginning of the six-year period, the basic structure of RP9 will be defined and the main goals will be set. These goals will be evaluated annually through joint demonstrations and workshops. In these demonstrations the individual RPs will show their status. Scheduled tests will act as intermediate route points and the results from these tests will modify the remaining research plan accordingly (this is tightly coupled to RP1). The outcome of these tests will provide valuable data that will benefit not only CoE-GIM and the host organizations but also the surrounding society and the intelligent machine research community in general. They will also provide an opportunity for the media to report the progress of GIM to the public.

For the purposes of development and demonstrations a testing environment for outdoor intelligent machines (developed, purchased, or modified) will be constructed in Tampere. This environment will provide the facilities for the outdoor testing and will be used individually and jointly by both of the partners in CoE-GIM. Intelligent machines will be capable of being controlled/teleoperated from both ends over broadband communication channels as individuals or as a group (system) of machines.

To summarize the essence of this research package, one could say that this is the thread that links all the RPs together. In practice it means that several types of subsystems and complete machines, robots and work machines alike, will be purchased and/or developed and operated together in the demonstration environment based on the theories, models, and solutions synthesized in CoE-GIM. In the field of intelligent machines, only real-life tests with rich interaction with a human operator and the surrounding environment can demonstrate how solid the research really is. In addition to being tested and demonstrated with existing test-beds, the demonstrated features will be integrated in the two identical test vehicles of both teams. The vehicle will probably be Avant Tecno’s small-scale loader with articulated steering. These similar integration test-beds will deepen the practical cooperation between the two teams and improve the dissemination of the results.

In fact RP9 has already started in October 2005 as a separate joint 2-years project of ATL and IHA. The hardware and software infrastructure is currently under preparation and will be completed at the end of the year, after which research activities can use it from both institutes.