I made a visit to Ulm University of Applied Sciences with my colleague Kimmo Vänni. We spent two days with Professor Christian Schleger and the staff and students of his Service Robotics Laboratory. Their work is focused on a use case of a service robot able to serve food and drinks to humans sitting at a table. Planning and execution of tasks in an open ended problem solving environment is the key challenge that they want to solve.
The service robotics laboratory http://www.zafh-servicerobotik.de/ is a dynamic environment where the use case space is in the middle and the workplaces of staff and students are located around it. The technical solutions are based on existing hardware and software. The focus is on the methodology for developing useful applications for real needs by the optimal use of hardware and software. In our discussions we shared the view that this kind of approach is exactly what universities of applied sciences should be taking.
In the future, the aim is to explore possibilities for integrating TAMK’s social robotics RDI work with the work of Prof. Schleger and his team. Together we can try to find out how robots could become socially compatible to live among humans and more accepted and respected by humans. Prof. Schleger and his team work mostly with their own butler robot system, but they had also just got a brand new elephant robot made by the company FESTO.