The robot's arms are its most mobile parts and most liable to collide with the environment or a person. To ensure personal and material safety around the robot, the robot must be capable of controlling the forces that it applies to its environment. This is already the case with Romeo's current arm force control, but we wanted to enhance its ability to handle contacts not only actively (control compliance setting) but also passively, by integrating controlled flexibility in the transmission chain.
For a robot interacting with people and their environment, the hand is of major importance. Obviously, it is used for holding objects but also for communicating very intuitively in the form of gestures (such as pointing). The hand available on Romeo's first prototype can only hold relatively simple objects and, with its single degree of freedom, is not capable of any communication. A new more skilful and above all more expressive hand will be designed as part of the project.
In order to better address the needs of the personal assistance application, mechanical improvements may be required. While biped locomotion offers obvious advantages in an environment specially adapted for bipeds, it poses stability problems and is generally slower than wheeled locomotion. Aldebaran will study the possibility of offering a wheeled version for its robots.