Planning and Sequencing Through Multimodal Interaction for Robot Programming

Detta är en avhandling från Västerås : Mälardalen University

Sammanfattning: Over the past few decades the use of industrial robots has increased the efficiency as well as the competitiveness of several sectors. Despite this fact, in many cases robot automation investments are considered to be technically challenging. In addition, for most small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) this process is associated with high costs. Due to their continuously changing product lines, reprogramming costs are likely to exceed installation costs by a large margin. Furthermore, traditional programming methods of industrial robots are too complex for most technicians or manufacturing engineers, and thus assistance from a robot programming expert is often needed. The hypothesis is that in order to make the use of industrial robots more common within the SME sector, the robots should be reprogrammable by technicians or manufacturing engineers rather than robot programming experts. In this thesis, a novel system for task-level programming is proposed. The user interacts with an industrial robot by giving instructions in a structured natural language and by selecting objects through an augmented reality interface. The proposed system consists of two parts: (i) a multimodal framework that provides a natural language interface for the user to interact in which the framework performs modality fusion and semantic analysis, (ii) a symbolic planner, POPStar, to create a time-efficient plan based on the user's instructions. The ultimate goal of this work in this thesis is to bring robot programming to a stage where it is as easy as working together with a colleague.This thesis mainly addresses two issues. The first issue is a general framework for designing and developing multimodal interfaces. The general framework proposed in this thesis is designed to perform natural language understanding, multimodal integration and semantic analysis with an incremental pipeline. The framework also includes a novel multimodal grammar language, which is used for multimodal presentation and semantic meaning generation. Such a framework helps us to make interaction with a robot easier and more natural. The proposed language architecture makes it possible to manipulate, pick or place objects in a scene through high-level commands. Interaction with simple voice commands and gestures enables the manufacturing engineer to focus on the task itself, rather than the programming issues of the robot. The second issue addressed is due to inherent characteristics of communication with the use of natural language; instructions given by a user are often vague and may require other actions to be taken before the conditions for applying the user's instructions are met. In order to solve this problem a symbolic planner, POPStar, based on a partial order planner (POP) is proposed. The system takes landmarks extracted from user instructions as input, and creates a sequence of actions to operate the robotic cell with minimal makespan. The proposed planner takes advantage of the partial order capabilities of POP to execute actions in parallel and employs a best-first search algorithm to seek the series of actions that lead to a minimal makespan. The proposed planner can also handle robots with multiple grippers, parallel machines as well as scheduling for multiple product types.