They will be able to ‘figure out’ whether who is working in a hospital ward or in a factory has reached too high a level of fatigue, they will know how to ‘intervene’ to avoid risks to workers and will be able to ‘supporting them’ or ‘guiding them’ without causing psychophysical stress in the operators. These are the realistic scenarios – one that traces an industry and the other a hospital – on which new robots will be studied from‘Italian Institute of Technologies and Inail who today launched the new ergoCub research project. The study by Iit and the National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work will last three years and in fact opens new horizons towards Industries and Hospitals 5.0. In short, with ergoCub, robotics enters the service of prevention. In the joint laboratories of Genoa and Monte Porzio Catone, “two realistic scenarios will be recreated – one industrial and the other hospital – for test the impacts of the new robotic systems “together with those who will then have to use them in the factory or in a lane. With this project we want to bring robotic technologies into industry 4.0, “putting the acceptability and psychophysical well-being of workers at the center of the interaction between man and robot” explained Iit and Inail. For ergoCub 5 million euros will be invested by Inail for the design and construction of new humanoids and wearable technologies, able to assess, manage, reduce and prevent the physical risk of workers in industrial and hospital contexts. The premise of ergoCub – where ‘ergo’ indicates ergonomics and ‘Cub’ recalls the name of the humanoid child Iit iCub, which will be the reference platform of the studio – are digitization, the Internet of Things and robotic elements introduced into production processes with the birth of industry 4.0. Three of the IIT research laboratories will contribute to the project: the Dynamic Interaction Control lab, coordinated by Daniele Pucci and head of the ergoCub project for Iit, the Humanoid Sensing and Perception lab, coordinated by Lorenzo Natale, and iCub Tech Facility, coordinated by Marco Maggiali.
“This is not a starting point but a new stage in the collaboration process started years ago with Iit in the name of technological innovation and which has already led to important results for the prevention of accidents and occupational diseases and for the rehabilitation of the injured “he said the president of Inail, Franco Bettoni. “In the meantime – he observed – the world of work has changed profoundly and science has developed solutions more and more avant-garde. With projects like this, we try to create the conditions to make the results of a research activity available to workers and the production system that are in line with technological evolution and can always contribute to improving people’s lives “.
For Giorgio Metta, Scientific Director of the IIT, “this new project supported by Inail demonstrates the importance of networking the excellence of our country, having as a common goal the repercussions on citizens, such as the use of robotics as an opportunity to improve safety in the workplace “.” Over the years – he stressed – the continuous exchange with Inail and his research staff allowed us to transform the technologies created in our laboratories into true innovation, so that the end user was involved right from the start “.”Successes in upper limb prosthetics were a prime example, I’m sure that even with humanoid robots we will reach very important goals “Metta wished.
Iit and Inali highlighted that “in these advanced industrial ecosystems, the interaction between human operators and robots takes place with the aim of facilitating the work activity, determining the need for perception systems capable of reading the movement of workers and analyzing data relating to physical stress, so as to avoid the onset of injuries and musculoskeletal diseases “. The new project between Iit and Inail, remarked Daniele Pucci, coordinator of Iit’s Dynamic Interaction Control lab, aims “to intervene precisely in this direction, inserting in human-robot interaction, a new monitoring and response system in favor of worker health “. “We will put into practice – assured Pucci – the lessons derived from Industry 4.0, such as the need to develop a robotic technology that can promote the well-being of the worker, not only physical but also psychosocial. Our approach will be to introduce collaborative humanoid robots that can interact like real workmates, ‘robot workmates’ able to warn anomalous situations, through advanced systems of perception of the physical state of the human being, and intervene in support, anticipating the risk of error in the human colleague and injuries due to continuous and repetitive movements “. (by Andreana d’Aquino )