Compared with industrial robots, service robots pay more attention to human-computer interaction experience, and the interaction between users and robots is frequent, which requires robots to have efficient feedback speed, and also puts forward higher requirements for artificial intelligence technology, including deep learning, natural language processing, visual perception, cloud computing and so on.

On December 17, at the 2021 artificial intelligence technology innovation series Summit Forum, the group standard of technical specification for autonomous positioning and navigation of robots was released. The standard specifies the performance test requirements and evaluation methods for mobile robots’ positioning, navigation, obstacle avoidance, extrication, map building, multi robot cooperative obstacle avoidance and cooperative transportation, and puts forward more detailed technical requirements for the technical specifications of service robots.

Service robot needs to deal with dynamic environment

At present, robots are generally divided into industrial robots, service robots and special robots. The breakthrough of artificial intelligence technology and the decrease of the cost of core parts accelerate the penetration of service robots in various fields. In the past five years, the growth rate of China’s service robot industry is higher than the global average growth rate, and the market scale accounts for more than 25% of the world. At the same time, China has global competitive advantages in industrial chain, industrial environment, etc., and is expected to become a leader in the global service robot field in the future. Novel coronavirus pneumonia is the catalyst for the outbreak and the sustained high speed growth in recent years. China’s service robot industry will continue to expand rapidly and has great potential in the future.

Compared with industrial robots, what are the characteristics of service robots?

“Compared with industrial robots, the biggest feature of service robots is the difference in working environment. The working environment of industrial robots can be considered as structured, while the working environment of service robots is unstructured.” Ying Fuchen, founding partner and CPO of Beijing Yunji Technology Co., Ltd., said in an interview with science and Technology Daily that among industrial robots, the most familiar industrial manipulator is fixed in one place. The layout of manipulator workspace will be arranged according to the most suitable way for manipulator work, which is why we saw it in the exhibition The industrial manipulator on display is often enclosed in an area, or even completely covered with a cover, so as not to hurt the surrounding crowd.

“However, service robots (especially robots that can move autonomously here) often enter the places that have been formed at present, such as hotels, office buildings, restaurants, hospitals, etc. they can not require the environment to adapt to the robot, but only the robot to adapt to the environment, and the surrounding environment may change at any time. Therefore, service robots need to deal with more complex and dynamic environments.” Ying said.

“Robots need to improve the ability to perceive various environments, including the interaction with various intelligent devices. For example, robots need to get up and down the elevator, notify customers (landline, mobile phone, smart speaker, etc.), and outdoor service robots also need to judge the road conditions. These intelligent systems in the interaction with the environment can be collectively referred to as environmental intelligence. How to communicate between robots and the environment, and how to better understand the environment, need robot manufacturers and related industries to work together, so as to form industry standards and build roads and bridges for service robots. ” Ying said.

Human computer interaction should be as natural as interpersonal communication

Experts believe that service robots should take service as the core, have a clear value expansion path, and finally return to the commercial nature. So, what are the requirements of service robot for robot performance and what technologies need to be developed as support?

Ying Fuchen said that the human-computer interaction experience of service robot is very critical, because in the whole work process of communication, it will contact people of various roles, such as the staff as robot colleagues or users receiving robot services, passers-by in the process of work, etc. Therefore, service robot has strong requirements for ergonomics and human-computer interaction to ensure the convenience of operation and the fluency of interaction. In terms of interaction, service robots need to combine UI, voice, vision and other technical means to make the interaction between human and robot as natural as human interaction.

“Another important point is that the working scenes of service robots are often highly overlapped with people’s activities. In some places, the flow of people is still very dense, such as elevator, which is a small space.” Ying Fuchen pointed out that if outdoor robots are considered, the interaction between service robots and other means of transportation should also be considered. Therefore, the safety of service robots in operation and the harmonious coexistence between human and robots are particularly important.

Extending application scenarios of manipulator’s blessing

Compared with industrial robots, service robots are still a relatively young industry. Ying Fuchen believes that the current service robot has achieved large-scale application in some vertical fields, such as hotel, restaurant cleaning, building and so on. From the perspective of function, it has also been relatively mature in indoor distribution, cleaning patrol, disinfection, welcome tour and other fields. For outdoor scenes, service robots are still in the exploration period, but in the near future, service robots in closed parks should also be able to develop rapidly. At the same time, the cooperation between outdoor robots and indoor robots is also imperative.

“Another big development direction is the combination of mobile robot and robot arm, which can greatly expand the application functions and scenes of service robot. At present, the miniaturization and low-cost of robot arm are also very fast, and the housekeeper we expect will not be too far away.” Ying said.

Zhu Xiaorui, Professor of Harbin Institute of Technology (Shenzhen) and President of Zhuhai Lingnan big data research institute, believes that mobile robots have the following characteristics: the perception ability and action ability of intelligent systems are increasing; people and intelligent systems are increasingly integrated, and man-machine integration environment is forming; new intelligent mobile robots have the ability to learn pedestrian behavior patterns in unknown social environment The ability to do so.

Autonomous positioning and navigation technology is the cornerstone

With the rapid development of artificial intelligence, computer vision, speech recognition, navigation, sensing, semiconductor and power energy technology, service robots are also making breakthroughs in function, performance, autonomy, ease of use and cost-effectiveness.

“Autonomous positioning and navigation technology plays a cornerstone role in the service robot.” Ying Fuchen pointed out that because it solves three core problems: where I am, where I want to go and how to go; only by solving these problems can service robots have more work and service space.

“At the same time, in the process of moving, robots need to interact with the environment, human beings and other robots, such as how to ensure that multiple robots enter and leave the elevator at the same time, how to ensure the first out and last in, and how robots queue up, etc.; and then, for example, how robots avoid each other in narrow passages, whether they all follow the right-hand rule, and whether they need a virtual red line when they meet at the intersection Green light to ensure traffic efficiency and safety Ying Fu Chen said that all these problems can not be determined and solved by one company. The efficiency of the whole robot group needs the technical specifications, standards and certification of the industry to ensure that the robots of all manufacturers follow a set of rules (such as traffic rules, communication protocols, etc.) and ensure that the robots in the same scene can provide their own services efficiently and orderly. Only in this way can the efficiency of the robot group be improved We need to really develop this industry.

Ying Fuchen predicted that in the future, the number of robots around us may exceed the number of human beings, and the functions and forms are also different. If there is no supporting technical specification to restrict the robot, its industry development will also fall into chaos.

“The information label of which technical specifications the robot meets is also an important basis for human partners to judge whether the robot is suitable for the specified scene.” Ying said.

Ying also emphasized the safety of service robots. “A service robot with a mechanical arm can be equivalent to a person with hands and feet. If it does not comply with the specifications, it can cause great harm. Therefore, we urgently need industry technical specifications.”

Editor in charge: CC

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