5D Robotics receives contract to develop interactive robot

Robotics software company 5D Robotics, working in collaboration with intelligent systems designer Charles River Analytics, has been awarded $100,000 by the U.S. government’s Small Business Innovation Research program to create a new autonomous robot. The robot will be designed to interact with human team members by “physically following its teammates and reacting to visual and gestured commands.” The project is called Multinodal Interface for Natural Operator Teaming with Autonomous Robots, or Minotaur for short.

To get Minotaur to follow along as needed, 5D Robotics says it will make use of its 5D Behavior Engine, which includes “follow me” and “guarded motion” capabilities. Charles River will provide vision-based tracking and gesture recognition technology to process specific commands.

“5D software enables any robot to autonomously follow its teammates through complex environments while avoiding collision with people or objects,” the company said in a statement. “Integrating Charles River’s visual recognition technology means the robot can now take cues from its human teammates and follow directions autonomously. Similar to how soldiers, police, and firefighters might get visual cues from their teammates via hand signals, the Minotaur project will enable those same recognition and response behaviors in robots.”

This represents the first phase of the SBIR program and will determine the technical merit, feasibility and commercial potential of the project before more funds are committed. The complete program includes three phases that increasingly move the project toward the ultimate goal of commercialization.

“The Minotaur project is advancing how robots and humans work together,” David Rowe, CEO of 5D Robotics, said in a statement. “As U.S. Defense and commercial budgets shrink, robots will be called upon to take on more complex tasks and work in close cooperation with humans. This project is immediately appropriate for our war fighters and future-ready for the commercial sector. The team at Charles River has created software that integrates perfectly with our own, and we believe we’ll have a robust, amazingly responsive robotic software within six months.”

[ logos courtesy of 5D Robotics and Charles River Analytics ]