The next generation of industrial robots is envisioned to share workspaces with humans and physically interact with human collaborators in the dynamic environments of highly customized small batch sized production. Moreover, there exists the vision of robotic assistants and assistive robotic devices that help us in our everyday life and ensure individual mobility along with a high standard of living including autonomy in high ages. The demographic change in today’s industrial societies and the associated social and economic challenges turn this vision into a true need of action.
A key enabler for this new generation of robots and assistive robotic devices is the broad availability of robust and affordable force/torque enabled robotic actuators, which pave the way for the advanced control concepts required to:
- solve dexterous manipulation of arbitrary or possibly delicate objects with a priori unknown shapes, weights, friction and stiffness properties;
- allow whole body robotic locomotion or robotic system assisted human locomotion in unstructured, dynamic and possibly cluttered environments as well as stairs and ladders while exploiting multiple contacts;
- realize intuitive, safe and dependable physical interaction of robots and assistive robotic devices with untrained human users.