The proposed robotic system used for the automated removal of asbestos contamination will consist of multiple mobile robotic units that perform the asbestos-removal-tasks autonomously. Each unit consists of a mobile platform and robotic arm with an abrasive tool. The combination of optical and radar sensor systems will allow the environmental perception and local monitoring of the asbestos-removal-tasks. Supported by a user interface, the operator can select different areas on a virtual representation of the rehabilitation site and assign asbestos-removal-tasks. Based on the user input, the central process control system plans the task allocation and collaboration between the mobile units and their movements and trajectories autonomously. The user interface allows the permanent supervision of the automated process and optional remote control. All robotic units are connected to a central aspiration and energy supply to remove the waste from the rehabilitation site and supply sufficient energy for the robotic units.
The Danger of Asbestos Contamination and the Concept of a Robotic Solution
Asbestos (a naturally occurring mineral forming thin fibrous crystals) was widely used for construction materials, due to its beneficial physical properties and low price. Today, asbestos dust is known to be hazardous for humans and for this reason millions of flats and buildings have to be refurbished to remove the hazardous asbestos. A task which is putting humans at danger and is very inefficient without robotic solutions. Our technological approach is to use semi-autonomous mobile robotic units that remove the asbestos material in a secluded and empty flat.
First Version Prototype Development
The first version prototype was developed in several iterations, with the main challenges being the workspace considerations for the robotic arm and the integration of the aspiration system, the cable reel and all controllers and electronic boards in a very limited footprint given by the indoor use of the robot.
Central Process Control System
The robots are controlled via a Central Process Control System for the task planning and feedback to the user. The Interface gives a live visualization and access to the camera pictures and allows for the setting and control of the process parameters during operation.
Exploration and Mapping
To enable autonomous task planning, a lightweight semantic map of the robot’s environment is being developed to capture the removal site geometrically, augmented by information relevant for asbestos removal. Our approach is an autonomous exploration of the refurbishment site to record the raw data, which is then analyzed to classify all components in the room and generate a semantic map to be used for the planning and for visualization in the user interface.
Testing Site and Initial Tests
The prototype and the overall process are tested on our testing site in Bourg Le Valence in France. With the mock-up of a rehabilitation site and a control room for the operator, we are able to test the functionality and teleoperation of the first prototype in a realistic environment, without exposing anyone to danger.
By establishing the Advisory Board we maintain close relationships with the worldwide industrial and research community and ensure that the Bots2ReC project stays at the leading edge of scientific developments. The Advisory Board is regularly informed on the progress of Bots2ReC project's development and provides feedback and ideas intended to shape and accelerate the formation of the Europe-wide integration. We invite interested companies and organizations to join the Advisory Board and benefit from a direct project feedback: