Logistics Roboitics

The Project and Robot

European Robotics Challenge (EuRoC, EU FP7) aims at sharpening the focus of European manufacturing through a number of application experiments, while adopting an innovative approach which ensures comparative performance evaluation. In the framework of EuRoC, three industry-relevant challenges are launched:
• Reconfigurable Interactive Manufacturing Cell
• Shop Floor Logistics and Manipulation
• Plant Servicing and Inspection

The IIT AutoMAP team, with members from APRIL lab, participated the challenge “Shop Floor Logistics and Manipulation“.The main goal of this challenge is to boost mobile manipulation with torque controlled robots towards industrial maturity and thus enable entirely new applications and markets, such as robots acting autonomously in unstructured environments and together with humans. The picture adapted from the EuRoC official website demonstrates this concept.

The official project webpage is: EUROC

The Benchmarking Demonstrations

The platforms provided for this challenge are a dynamic simulation platform, the DLR Co-Worker hardware platform and the KUKA omniRob with a KUKA LWR4+ arm (KUKA MIIWA), equipped with several on-board mounted sensors. The following demos show several tasks that MIIWA performs in mock-up environment.

(1) MIIWA prepares parts on a workbench

(2) MIIWA collects parts from a shelf

The Application

APRIL lab is then working with European Nuclear Organization (CERN) to apply these robotic mobile manipulation in unstructured environments as found at CERN facility. It is based on use case operations to be carried out on CERN’s flagship accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is the most powerful accelerator in the world and has been in operation since 2010. Collimators are electromechanical devices installed at regular intervals around the 27km long LHC tunnel to ensure optimum quality particle beams are delivered to the experiments. There are approximately 100 collimators of different types in operation at any one time and new collimators are being produced to replace any failed devices and improve their performance. 

The main motivation for carrying out maintenance work using a remotely controlled mobile robot is to reduce maintenance personnel exposure to hazards in the LHC tunnels – such as ionising radiation and oxygen deficiency hazards. A second motivation is that the robot will be able to autonomously carry out the same tasks in the assembly facility as in the tunnel on collimators during their initial build and quality assurance. The mobile manipulation tasks dealt with in this proposal are carried out in two distinct environments:
(1) In the low‐volume collimator assembly and test workshop at CERN (assembly and quality testing as part of initial build of collimators)
(2) In the underground accelerator tunnels where the collimators are installed (maintenance and re‐commissioning as part of LHC operation)


[1] Fei Chen, Mario Selvaggio, Darwin Caldwell, “Dexterous grasping by manipulability selection for mobile manipulator with visual guidance”, IEEE Transactions on Industrial Informatics 15 (2), 1202-1210, 2018.

[2] Mario Selvaggio, Gennaro Notomista, Fei Chen, Boyang Gao, Francesco Trapani, Darwin Caldwell, “Enhancing bilateral teleoperation using camera-based online virtual fixtures generation”, in IEEE/RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), 1483-1488, 2016.

[3] Fei Chen, Boyang Gao, Mario Selvaggio, Zhijun Li, Darwin Caldwell, Keith Kershaw, Alessandro Masi, Mario Di Castro, Roberto Losito, “A framework of teleoperated and stereo vision guided mobile manipulation for industrial automation”, in IEEE International Conference on Mechatronics and Automation, 1641-1648, 2016.


fei.chen -at-