The fourth generation of this personal robot is ready to roll: Care-O-bot 4. Enhancing product experience, recognising user needs and connecting the physical with the digital are important design task. With Care-O-bot 4, a new service robot archetype has now been set on its course. In terms of design and development, Phoenix Design is for the first time incorporated into a development community consisting of research institutions and universities worldwide, thanks to Fraunhofer IPA. A key concept of the future is human-robot interaction. Honoured by the Red Dot Award “Best of the Best”, the coveted quality seal for innovation and design.
»Care-O-bot 4 is the expression of a new understanding of interaction ability.«
(Statement by the panel of jurors, Red Dot Award)
»Thank you, Phoenix Design: the first Red Dot Award, and already a ‘Best of the Best’.«
(Dr. Ulrich Reiser, Group Leader IPA, Fraunhofer)
Service Robot Care-O-bot 4
sensual experience, top design quality
As service providers for humans, service robots need to reflect human actions. Care-O-bot 4 has at its disposal a sophisticated set of facial expressions and gestures, thus calling forth the emotions of everybody around. What’s more, it can navigate autonomously, recognise obstacles unaided, and pick up selected objects by itself. Cameras and microphones serve to recognise language, persons and gestures. The look-and-feel of the clearly designed interface located on the robot’s head incorporates top design quality. Interaction thus turns into a both cognitive and sensual experience.
Assisting the team of doctors during the ward round – patient information.
Autonomous transport trolley – increasing convenience and relieving staff.
Interactive companion – supporting and enriching everyday life.
The Magic of Interaction
emotional, social, independent
A figurative and friendly look induces interaction. Hand movements and independent grasping provide help. Complexity disappears: animations become a touching experience. Cameras and microphones enable a dialogue with words and gestures. Emotions: Interaction via touch screen, head movements and light signals.
Design and Engineering
user-focussed, modular, interactive
Face to face – human-machine interaction: emotions can be displayed via sophisticated facial expressions and gestures on the head’s interaction surface – easy-to-understand and clear characters for direct communication get the onlooker in the mood for dialogue. More informative depictions and more complex content can be handled easily and intuitively. Integrated sensors allow a 360-degree rotation with an increased interaction radius, thus facilitating communication with tall as well as short persons.
How do you combine the technological complexity of the respective components constituting the arm in a way that makes sense? By reducing the number of joint points, realising a maximum degree of freedom, for only human movements will be accepted by the users. A natural choreography in terms of function and design in connection with the torso comes across as meaningful and aesthetic. The elegant look and feel is even kept with two arms or no arm at all – a focussed adaptation to the task at hand.
How do you ensure recognising and grasping objects with a hand module? Thanks to a laser pointer, it can be clearly discerned whether it’s about rough and heavy or lightweight and delicate objects. Integrating sensors and 3D camera modules into the inside of the hand which cannot be covered by the main camera makes precise grasping possible. What’s more, Care-O-bot 4 can navigate autonomously and pick up selected objects by itself.
With its design sporting gently rounded corners and soft proportions, it moves through the room fluently and elegantly – bowing down and stretching up high. How do these magical moments of movement come about? Innovations and technological components have been intelligently integrated into the torso, allowing a novel, elegant and fascinating way of hip and neck movement including guaranteed static safeguards. An LED ring at the torso – a further non-verbal means of communication.
How can you go the first step with Care-O-bot 4? You could e.g. make do with only one arm, or even leave off both arms. The intricate ball-and-socket joints mounted in neck and hip as well as many of the sensors are optional. It is even possible to only use the mobile basis of Care-O-bot 4, turning it into a service and transport robot. Its modular construction allows for cost-optimised solutions: easy re-assembly for focussed adaptation to the respective task at hand – while maintaining design quality.
Care-O-bot 4 is the result of a multi-disciplinary team of robotic scientists, engineers, model makers, product designers, interaction designers and psychologists. The service robot was created in close co-operation between IPA Fraunhofer Stuttgart and Phoenix Design over a period of four years. Like with its predecessor model, the experiences of social scientists and the results from numerous research institutions and research projects have been integrated here.
innovative technologies, novel deployment options
Designing interaction – unique and differentiating, always focussing on the user, deploying design in user-oriented ways, from the physical product to the digital interface – this has always been the focus of Care-O-bot 4. For decades we have been using our experiences for working across teams and disciplines, on a par with our clients – and successfully so. Care-O-bot 4 is no ready-made robot, but rather an expandable research platform. The Fraunhofer IPA is interested in having as many researchers as possible from research institutions and universities around the world participate in conducting research with and for this robotic system, thus continually expanding its deployment options. We are happy to accompany Care-O-bot during this process.
What a Robot:
Care-O-bot 4 as Gentleman
Johannes Schäfer & Sven Feustel
Press Phoenix Design
Interview with Andreas Haug
Care-O-bot 4 ®
The new modular service robot generation
Contribution at the MuC 2015 / UPA Conference
Let me Introduce Myself:
I am Care-O-bot 4, a Gentleman Robot
What a Robot:
Care-O-bot 4 as Gentleman