R1 is born. The first robot designed for domestic and professional environments

R1- “Your Personal Humanoid”- is born as the new humanoid of the robotic ecosystem of IIT – Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia. Italian design, variable height of 20 cm starting from 1.25m, weight 50 kg, 50% plastic and 50% carbon fibre and metal, it is designed to operate in domestic and professional environments. At the same time, with the involvement of private investors, IIT will implement the production model on a large scale in the next 12-18 months.

R1 - "Your Personal Humanoid" has been created based upon the experience gained by IIT on iCub, the most widespread humanoid robot for research in the world. R1 is also a humanoid and has elements of uniqueness:

  • It has been designed by studying human responses during interaction with him. It is a work in collaboration with designers, creatives and neuroscientists to understand what aspects of the shape and movement of the robot make it seem more "human";

  • Its Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) is designed and developed directly on the humanoid. Most A.I. studies are conducted regardless of the existence of a robotic body, while on the contrary, the latest neuroscience studies say that intelligence is developed in a functional manner to the body that hosts it;

  • It has a newly developed body, in which currently plastic materials are used for 50% of the structure. Future versions will incorporate intelligent materials, such as those based on graphene, or biodegradable, increasingly sophisticated sensors, more efficient batteries and circuits incorporated into the very structure of the robot.

  • R1 was built in only 16 months thanks to the collaboration of IIT’s team of 22 scientists and technicians, led by Giorgio Metta, together with some industrial designers of the Genoese area, a group of industrial designers, graphic designers, entertainment experts and illustrators coming from two different creative backgrounds. One of them, from Milan, coordinated the development of the creative concept, the identification of market scenarios and robot interaction, under the guidance of Andrea Pagnin and Luigi Focanti for 14.6 Creative Licensing, and the other, from Barcelona, led by Pierpaolo Congiu of Drop Innovation, has collaborated with the Milanese reality for the design of humanoid surfaces.

    R1’s height is variable; its body extends from 125 to 140cm thanks to an extensible bust. Similarly, its arms can extend to 13cm forwards, to reach distant objects. The torso, in addition to moving up and down, can twist sideways. The battery, with an average duration of 3 hours, guarantees the autonomy of the robot. When the battery is low, all that is required is to plug it into a home electrical outlet using a power supply, just like any other household appliance. R1 is able to move in the environments thanks to the wheels, allowing it to reach a maximum speed of 2 km/h, the value that designers have determined as a safety limit.

The face of the robot consists of a colour LED screen with stylised faces, which are useful for non-verbal communication with human beings. Patterned by IIT, the screen is thought to have a low cost, and features include vision sensors: 2 stereo cameras and a 3D scanner. For balance, it has an accelerometer and a gyroscope.  For generation and perception of sound, it has speakers and a microphone. In addition, the belly allocates the 3 computers which govern the robot’s calculation abilities, movement of the head and control of the sensors. A wireless card allows the robot to connect to the Internet, sourcing useful information for its interaction with human beings or software upgrades. The software, in fact, has Open Source parts (the library for its programming) so as to benefit from the cooperation of the community which already operates around the humanoid robotics IIT.

The hands and forearms of the robot are covered with an artificial skin, or a sensor that gives the robot a sense of touch, enabling it to "feel" the interaction with the objects they manipulate. The design of the robot’s hands has been simplified compared to that of iCub to provide strength and low costs, while allowing it to perform simple household tasks. The robot's hands are in the shape of two mitten gloves, with a spherical wrist, meaning the robot can lift weights up to 1.5kg and completely close the outlet around cylindrical objects like bottles and cups.

To respond to safety standards, all motors and couplings of R1 are designed with a kind of "friction" that controls the movement of the robot in order to decelerate it during impacts. The total engines are 28: 2 for the head and neck, 4 for the torso, 8 for each arm, 2 for each hand, 1 for each of the 2 wheels.

Photo Credit: Duilio Farina, Agnese Abrusci

The team that originated R1, "Your Personal Humanoid", is young, with an average age of 37 years. The 22 scientists from IIT, coordinated by Giorgio Metta, include mechanical, electronic and software engineers. The creative team, coordinated by Andrea Pagnin of 6.14 Creative Licencing, includes about 12 people from 5 different nationalities.

Coordinator and Creator: Giorgio Metta, 46 years old.

Mechanics: Alberto Parmiggiani, 34 years old (team leader); Luca Fiorio, 32 years old; Anand Vazhapilli Sureshbabu, 28 years old; Lorenzo Orciari, 34 years old; Filippo Biggi, 43 years old; Andrea Della Patria, 43 years old; Jennifer Chang, 22 years old.

Electronics: Marco Maggiali, 36 years old (team leader); Simeone Dussoni, 39 years old; Andrea Mura, 40 years old; Giorgio Zini, 57 years old; Claudio Lorini, 47 years old; Francesco Diotalevi, 46 years old.

Software: Lorenzo Natale, 41 years old (team leader), Alessandro Scalzo, 46 years old; Ugo Pattacini, 39 years old; Marco Randazzo, 35 years old, Daniele Domenichelli, 37 years old; Alberto Cardellino, 34 years old; Davide Pollarolo, 27 years old; Matteo Brunettini, 41 years old.

Creative and Strategic Concept: Andrea Pagnin, 44 years old (team leader) e Luigi Focanti, 44 years old (Creative Director).

Industrial Design Concept and Development: Pierpaolo Congiu, 40 years old (Industrial Design Director).

Related videos:

R1 walking around the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia

R1 - Your personal Humanoid

Published: 19 July 2016
IIT OpenTalk Editorial Staff

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