The Intelligent Workcell is our vision of the robotic workcell of the future. It uses automated perception systems to observe workers within the robot’s workspace, allowing for dynamically adaptive safety zones; it uses intelligence to understand what the workers are doing, allowing it to monitor the workers’ tasks and plan accordingly; and it provides feedback to the worker to indicate what the robot is intending to do. In the Intelligent Workcell, robots and people will work together seamlessly and safely.
The Intelligent Workcell builds upon our experience developing the Intelligent Monitoring of Assembly Operations (IMAO) system, which uses multiple 3D sensors to detect moving objects in a workcell and establish real-time dynamic safety zones surrounding the robot and the workers. If the safety zones intersect, the robot stops until the problem is resolved. The Intelligent Workcell is improving upon this concept by incorporating feedback about the robot’s intended actions (What is the robot going to do next?) and by detecting, tracking, and monitoring the people in the environment in order to better understand their activities and intentions.