Three major elements:
- a substantial research and development effort towards
- a new mobile service robot platform concept (hardware and software) to make the robots ultra-flat, ultra-flexible, and cost-effective
- a redesign of the overall service so that tasks, which have been accomplished by bulky and heavy robots so far, are distributed and accomplished by (formations of) small, lightweight, low-cost ropods,
- easy integration on the customer side (e.g. logistic enterprise), in particular no disruptive changes required,
- a methodology to boost the Technology Readiness Level of the developed technology from a proof of concept level (TRL 4) to the level of a prototypical system deployed into a realistic target environment of a hospital operating under the conditions and satisfying the needs imposed by this target environment (TRL 6),
- a series of increasingly difficult services or workflows in the target environment serving as use cases for the requirement analysis as well as for boosting of the Technology Readiness Levels. The platform concept
The platform concept
A main concern in the ROPOD project is the strict modular design. The project adopts a concept that was initially proposed in automotive industry by Volkswagen in the mid 90s and is meanwhile adopted by all major car manufacturers: the platform concept. The platform concept abandoned the prevailing paradigm to design cars as monolithic system and replaced it by what was called the Modular Transversal Toolkit (MQB). The core idea of MQB is to design components such that they can be re-used over a variety of car models. ROPOD is making an effort to transfer this idea into robotics and is adopting the idea in the design of its ropod platforms as shown below.
Evolution from components to systems to system of systems
As indicated in the two pictures below in ROPOD systems are designed from a set of re-usable modular components. The systems themselves will be configured – depending on the specific task – to systems of systems.
From lab to market: our methodology to promote the Technology Readiness
Our methodology to boost the Technology Readiness Level naturally decomposes into four phases, which an existing technology has to pass through to mature towards the next level of technological readiness. We will iterate through the above cycle two times to boost technology readiness from TRL4 to TRL 6.