It is neither humanoid nor machine.Care-O-bot4 wants to be friendly and useful – it wants to be a service partner. Offering many possible applications, this cone-shaped robot was created as a platform that can be adapted using individual modules. As such, it can be transformed into a chassis to transport suitcases, an interactive nursing vehicle without arms or a butler with two arms, voice and touch recognition as well as a large touch screen that can display two eye-like dots. So it is humanoid after all? “No,” said Andreas Haug of Phoenix Design, “This was about acceptance and creating trust.” Which is why this robot can make gestures and communicate with its eyes, arms or its entire body. It makes for easier feedback to check it understood its tasks correctly and completed them successfully as well as to see if there are any malfunctions. Sometimes it moves its upper body; sometimes its eyes change their shape. Because Care-O-bot4 is meant to provide not only transportation or support, it was conceived to be understood intuitively by those around it.
To be able to grasp things in an exact manner its hand as well as the area between its torso and head have been equipped with sensors and cameras. The latter enable the robot to freely navigate a room while avoiding collisions. In order to make the robot even more agile and nimble, it features a kind of hip joint between chassis and body.
Fraunhofer IPA and Phoenix Design wanted to create a prototype, which is why the fourth version of this service robot is by no means a continued development of its predecessors. Instead, it represents a completely new creation integrating cutting-edge technology and taking into account for the very first time aspects of cost and production technology.
Armin Scharf for design report magazine