One of the dreams of robotics is to help people with disabilities lead normal lives by augmenting their limited mobility.
One concern is safety, however. A robot needs to be gentle like a human, and use the appropriate amount of force. You don’t want a robot to yank a shirt over your head too aggressively. But it shouldn’t be so gentle as to be slow.
Alright, it’s not that fast. But the team behind Safe Dressing, as it’s called, says the new method could enable a robot to help complete basic tasks faster.
Whereas most robotics algorithms are programmed to avoid hitting humans altogether, the algorithm CSAIL researchers programmed tolerates some collisions, so long as the impacts are calculated to be non-harmful.
"Developing algorithms to prevent physical harm without unnecessarily impacting the task efficiency is a critical challenge. By allowing robots to make non-harmful impact with humans, our method can find efficient robot trajectories to dress the human with a safety guarantee."