The humanoid robot working in an industrial application will need to have an appearance that makes it approachable and clearly identified for their job function. This research will primarily focus on creating the overall appearance of the robot with consideration of where additional functionality will need to be added in the future.
Statement of Innovation.
Humanoid robots are being considered for a wide range of applications to assist people with dirty, dull, and dangerous jobs such as disaster response, maintenance, and space exploration. In addition, robots are being used for telepresence on worksites to allow an aging population to continue to share knowledge in the field without leaving the office. As these robots become more capable, their effectiveness on the job will in part depend on the nature they project to those humans they work with.
ESCHER, the most recent humanoid robot platform designed and fabricated at Virginia Tech, has a similar mechanical design as the THOR humanoid robot but is capable of climbing and longer
runtime. The current skeleton of these robots do not include external panels that provide protection and appearance that is needed for the application of the platform. Due to the expense and complexity of the base platform, it is desirable to have interchangeable body panels that include the aesthetic and functional performance/protection that would allow the robot to operate in different environments. Our prototype body panels for ESCHER will become a baseline platform on which future task-specific versions of the panels can be based. These future applications may be more specific to the environment conditions in which that robot operates. For instance, a firefighting robot would have its panels constructed of a fire resistant material or guarded against water spray.