Research plan 2008-2010

Task 1: Conceptual and technical design for the INTEGRATOR project

On the basis of the definitions listed in this proposal and decisions made in RP1 (Strategy planning) after the CoE-GIM start-up, Task 9.1 creates the roadmap for the whole Research Package. The status of the participating institutes will be verified, in particular concerning the applied and/or new projects. Also, a full inventory of the institutes’ CoE-related hardware and software will be taken. After this check-up, the INTEGRATOR project will gain its final form. The interactions between RP9 and the other Research Packages will be defined and formalized. In particular, the relationship between RP1 (Strategy) and RP9 will be extremely close and each will have an effect on the structure and functionality of the other.

Small mobile working machines are becoming popular in different types of service and janitorial operations in urban environments. Many global machine manufacturers are today making such machines, among them also Finnish producers. Electronics and information technology is being put to use in some of these machines. Automation control levels will be increased in future because of low component costs. With automation control several advantages, including increased reliability and user-friendliness, can be obtained by automating the on-board technology of the vehicle. In addition, by adding the possibility of wireless remote control, the driver(s) of machines can be transferred to more comfortable or safer places, which is, in many cases, an interesting, or possibly the only, option. It will be even more interesting if one operator can handle several machines at the same time, because a group of small machines may form a more effective piece of machinery than one big one.

The main problem in multi-machine telecontrol is the overloading of the operator if the concept is based on traditional direct teleoperation. The problem can be solved by increasing the autonomy of the machines by changing the operator’s role from direct teleoperation to the level of the coordination of activities. This requires development of a concept in which inter-machine communication is added to the basic operator-machine communications system and a proper model of the operation environment, the so-called “common presence”, is utilized as a part of the HMI. The machines have to know their position and have a capability to navigate in the operating environment. Close interaction between the operator and the individual machines is still needed, because certain complicated work functions and exceptional situations need to be cleared by the operator’s direct control.

Expected results: detailed plan for the INTEGRATOR project

Task 2: Demonstrators development

One of the main goals of this task is to construct a demonstration field, where it is possible to use the researched and developed knowledge from the research packages. The demonstration field will be built and a wireless system linking the demonstration field to a control room will be developed. The field will be equipped with video cameras, a wireless link system, and various sensors. Communication between the field, the machines. and the control room, and further with Ethernet will be researched.

The creation of the multi-machine remote operation concept and facility described above, demonstrating its functionalities on an outdoor test site and making it usable from remote places over the Internet, needs and can utilize results from all research packages. The facility also serves as a test platform for the individual research projects developing only certain aspects of GIM. This task seems tough as regards its realization goals. However, results from several other on-going or recently-finished research projects, including hardware and software, can be utilized effectively. IHA has developed a teleoperation system for a small working machine, which can be further developed in this project. ATL has two on-going projects in which presence modelling, navigation, and human-machine interaction methods are under development. Furthermore, the multi-robot concept is under study in several individual projects.

Expected results: INTEGRATOR realization

Task 3: Demonstrations

As the name of the RP illustrates, one of its main functions is to demonstrate the status of CoEGIM. Different RPs will demonstrate their progress to the organization and to a selected group of media, industry, and host organization representatives annually. These demonstrations will be given, depending on the case, either in the individual host organizations or on the demonstration field. The demonstrations will be organized jointly with RP1, which organizes annual educational and revaluation workshops. RP1 will then make any necessary modifications to the research plan.

Besides these main demonstrations, additional demonstrations will be organized internally whenever needed. The use of similar machines in both institutes will make possible fast and effective software design and testing. During the second half of the year 2013, GIM will organize a full-scale demonstration at which the results from the whole period will be demonstrated widely.

Expected results: internal and public demonstration of the INTEGRATOR