Autonomous Robotics & Human-Machine Systems
The aim of the group is to study novel algorithm for autonomous machines (robots) that are able to sense the environment, reason about it, and take actions to perform some tasks in cooperation with humans. The driving vision behind our research is to allow in the future robots to aid humans, for example to reduce physical effort and risks in industrial environment, help prevention and reaction in emergency situations as natural disasters, and in general simplify tasks of everyday life.
Primary research objectives of the group include (but are not limited to):
- Study complex aggregations of autonomous robots, e.g., multiple heterogeneous systems
- Design original ways to let humans to co-operate with complex semi-autonomous robotic systems
- Ensure robot autonomy, on-board sensing and estimation, both indoor and outdoor
- Study novel ways of physical interaction between robots and nearby environment
To this end, we rely on the tools of robotics, systems and control theory, sensing and estimation, computer vision, and psychophysics.
We believe that future employment of robotics application will have a huge impact on our lives, not only for the reduction of production-related risks for humans and to help prevention and reaction in emergency situations, but also in common tasks of everyday life. Among the several robotics fields, aerial robotics represents an emerging, promising, and one of the most rapidly growing topic. Aerial robots, also referred to as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), have the ability to reach hardly accessible areas, operate on rough terrains, while also enjoying a privileged point of view over the surroundings. Several application fields exploit the best of aerial robots characteristics in order to enhance our quality of life, safety and efficiency. This is the case of precision agriculture, in which aerial robots can be used to monitor and analyze crops from a privileged point of view, and to act when and only when necessary with crop dusting and spraying, eventually increasing the yield of a field while reducing the quantity of needed chemicals and water. In industrial scenarios, aerial robots will be used to monitor, inspect and intervene in hardly accessible or hazardous areas of plants, oil pipelines, power lines, pylons. Several environmental applications can be developed to monitor the effects of climate change, to help preserving wildlife and ecosystems (e.g.: automatically counting the exemplars in a species), identify issues and gather data for their solution. Similar strategies can be employed to monitor civil infrastructures as railways, highways, dams and bridges, not only to perform daily maintenance but also for early identification of critical issues and prevention of disasters. Finally, aerial robots will also appear in everyday life. They will be helpful companions in cleaning and maintenance, assisting the elderly and also as guides in unknown places. Moreover, they will be useful tools in an always growing number of jobs ranging from delivery to aerial photography and video shooting for television, cinema, shows, real estate promotion - or maybe just for fun!