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Care-Providing Robot FRIEND.
The Care-Providing Robot FRIEND is built from reliable industrial components. It is based on the wheelchair platform Nemo® Vertical, which is an electrical wheelchair from Meyra. This basic platform has been equipped with various additional components, which are described in the following.
  • Robot Arm / Manipulator: The Light Weight Robotic Arm 3 (LWA3) is a 7 degrees of freedom manipulator of Schunk mounted on an automated panning arm. So the arm can park behind the seat in order to navigate FRIEND in narrow passages. The robot arm is equipped with the prosthetic hand "SensorHand Speed" from Otto Bock which has built-in slip sensors in order to detect the slipping of gripped object and adapt the force accordingly. At the robot's wrist a force-torque sensor is mounted to perform force-torque-based reactive manipulative operations and to detect collisions.
  • TFT-Display: The TFT display provides visual information to the user and is also mounted on a panning arm.
  • Intelligent Tray: In front of the user an intelligent tray is available on which objects can be placed down by the manipulator. This tray is based on infra-red (IR) devices to acquire precise information about object locations, which should be manipulated.
  • Stereo Camera System: A Bumblebee® 2 stereo camera system with built-in calibration, synchronization and stereo projective calculation features is used to acquire information of the environment. It is mounted at the top of the system on a pan-tilt-head unit, which itself is installed on a special rack behind the seat.
  • Computer System: A high-end PC unit is mounted on the wheelchair platform behind the user. The mounting as depicted is still in a prototype state.
  • Input devices: There are several input devices which are available for FRIEND or under development: chin joystick, hand joystick, speech control (in- and output), brain-computer interface (BCI) and eye control. The input devices are adapted according to the impairments of the user or his preferences.
  • Infra-red Communication and Appliances: An infra-red control unit, development by IGEL, for communication with various appliances in the robot's environment is integrated underneath the pan-tilt-head unit. Thus, e.g. an automatic door opening mechanism in the refrigerator and the microwave, the configuration and control of the microwave itself or various consumer electronic components can be operated wireless.
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