Application specific protective body panels for the ESCHER humanoid robot


Overview.

Our current research is focused on designing and fabricating a prototype set of 3-dimensionally contoured and graphically relevant protective body panels for the ESCHER (Electromechanical Series Compliant Humanoid for Emergency Response) robot. Our team is completing color, form, and brand studies that inform changes to the visual appearance of ESCHER that promote familiarity with the human workers it interacts with on the job. The research is focused on the robots used in industrial applications to perform routine watch, basic inspection, and initial response in emergency situations.

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Brief Description of the Project

Our team is completing color, form, and brand studies that inform changes to the visual appearance of ESCHER that promote familiarity with the human workers it interacts with on the job. The research is focused on the robots used in industrial applications to perform routine watch, basic inspection, and initial response in emergency situations.

Humanoid robots are currently being developed for hazard response in industrial facilities for the DARPA Robotic Challenge (DRC) and as a watch/inspector/first responder onboard U.S. Navy ships (sponsored by Office of Naval Research, POC Dr. Tom McKenna). In both applications, the exterior panels of the robot need to clearly identify the robot in its role while also providing some function for the robot. For example, in the DRC exterior panels would clearly identify the robot as part of the emergency responder team while providing it with impact protection in case it falls or runs into something.

In addition, the exterior panels of the robot provides:

Environmental Protection

The robot has many environmental exposures (water, fire, etc.), and as such needs protection.

Impact Resistance

The panels provide impact resistance to vulnerable elements.

High Visibility

The robot needs to highly visible for the safety of people that it interacts with.

Alignment with the goals of ICAT

This collaboration of artists, designers and engineers is the embodiment of the ICAT mission to foster creativity and develop trans-disciplinary research. The cooperation of the School of Visual Arts and the Department of Mechanical Engineering promotes innovation across industries. Throughout this design process, we will be working with undergraduate and graduate students in both departments exposing them to new educational opportunities. Engineers will be shown new ways to consider projects beyond pure mechanical functionality. Artists will be exposed to the meticulous means by which engineers must operate in order to push forward the cutting edge of technology.

These exchanges will also expose the similarities in industry problem solving methodologies. This is an opportunity that demonstrates to the university community exactly how common the ground can be between “the studio” and “the lab”.