HRI & BlackDog: Wireless Robot Control Case Study

BlackDog Robotics – HRI Case Study Greetings from Humanistic Robotics, Inc. and we hope this finds you well mid-winter! We’ve been really pleased to work with NPC Robotics and their BlackDog Robotics division for the past couple of years as they introduce a really capable robot to the world. See below for the whole story, and all the best to you! Background Starting as a company that rebuilt motors for electric wheelchairs, NPC Robotics has grown to be one of the U.S. military and law enforcement’s most trusted suppliers of motion control technology. One of their most recent creations, a robot that could identify and disable IEDs, has now taken on a civilian role and is being used by first-responders. This robot was developed by NPC’s BlackDog Modular Robotics division. Because it could be easily reprogrammed and easy enough to use that anyone who ever played a video game could quickly understand it, the Safe Remote Control System (SRCS) from Humanistic Robotics was the perfect controller for the job. A military robot making a difference in civilian life Today, many SWAT teams have robots that are used very infrequently due to limitations that make them completely useless at times. The Boston Marathon bombing is a perfect example. The camera arm on that robot couldn’t extend high enough to see inside the boat where the suspect was hiding.That’s what makes the robot from BlackDog Robotics a better alter native for first responders. Initially built for the U.S Army to identify IEDs, this security robot offers the flexibility to change out different components quickly and easily. For example, you could remove an arm and replace it with a camera. Or add a hook device to help remove an injured person from a dangerous situation.Of course, when you have a variety of functions on a robot, operating it could get quite complicated. According to Michael Garrod, Chief Technical Officer of NPC and BlackDog Robotics, “One of the main reasons we chose the Safe Remote Control System (SRCS) from Humanistic Robotics is that when you hook up different pieces of equipment to the robot, you can easily reconfigure the buttons on the controller to operate whatever you need. And off you go.” Most operators have been training to use this robot since they were kids. Some SWAT teams have to go through a month’s worth of training to learn how to control the robots they currently have. But with the Safe Remote Control System (SRCS), anyone who’s ever played Xbox® or Playstation® could pick it up and know how to control the basic functions of the robot right away. Michael points out, “The robot never becomes a 200 lb. lump of metal because the specially trained operator isn’t available to drive it.” Finding the right controller was a lot harder than you’d think.      BlackDog Robotics originally tried RC controllers, which were incredibly unreliable. “There was no range whatsoever. They couldn’t keep a signal from behind a plastic dumpster” Mike continues, “Plus, some were so complex it was difficult for an untrained person to figure out what all the different buttons on the controller actually did.”BlackDog Robotics goal was to keep everything easy-to-use with no need for training, so they continued searching for a controller that would fit the bill. “We even considered having one of our engineers find the pieces and build our own.” Mike remembers, “It was such a massive relief when we found this controller from Humanistic Robotics.” Easy to use unless you’re not authorized to use it. When operating in high-risk situations, the security connection between the controller and the receiver is very …

HNY from HRI!

Happy New Year from HRI! We hope that 2016 will be a happy, safe and productive year for you. At HRI, 2015 was a year of new product introductions, new customer engagements, new employee onboarding, new business models, and most of all, a growing excitement about the way advanced technology is hitting just about every industry. We’re writing to tell you a little bit about what we’re looking forward to in the year ahead, and also to share a few interesting moments from the past year. From product introductions, to exciting collaborations with world class organizations like Mitsubishi Electric and DARPA, here are just a few of our highlights from 2015:   In FEBRUARY, we officially announced the launch of our CAN-Sync Wireless CAN Bridge, a product that delivers a reliable link between CAN interfaces for applications where wiring isn’t an option. Since then, we’ve shipped the CAN-Sync all over the world. It’s been put to work in forestry and agricultural operations, recycling plants, parking garages, mining trucks, pile drivers, and more. The CAN-Sync has been a welcome addition to our suite of safe wireless products, and we’ve received great feedback from customers on its range and reliability. In JUNE, our Wireless Emergency Stops were used by every team at the DARPA Robotics Challenge Finals, where the world’s most advanced robots faced off on a disaster relief obstacle course. We were honored to be chosen by DARPA as the provider of emergency stops for this elite competition. As robotic technology evolves, so does the need for more advanced safety controls. Our partnership with DARPA shows that HRI is ready to meet that need by providing cutting-edge safety tools for the world’s next generation of robotics. More on the challenge, and some cool photos here. In SEPTEMBER, we debuted an exciting collaboration with Mitsubishi Electric Automation at Pack Expo. We’ve been working with Mitsubishi on a customized wireless teach pendant that implements our wireless protocol for safety critical functions like emergency stopping and enable devices. The result was a custom wrapper for a Microsoft Surface Pro tablet PC that adds dead man switches and an E-Stop, and enables the controller to be used with industrial robots. This tool will allow Mitsubishi’s customers to control their entire manufacturing cell while mobile, rather than having to plug into each machine individually. We are excited about the advances in safety and productivity that this is going to bring to the factory! Mitsubishi Product Application Specialist Steve Pacitto and HRI Co-Founder Samuel Reeves In NOVEMBER, our Principal Control Systems Engineer Nathan Bivans became certified as a CMSE® – Certified Machinery Safety Expert. This distinction demonstrates that Nathan has completed the foremost machinery safety training program of its kind, and has been certified as an expert by TÜV NORD. Nathan has been with HRI since 2012, after working with Apple , Motorola, and Lutron Electronics. He plays a crucial role in the development of our technology for embedded and safety critical systems. Nathan’s new certification is just one more example of HRI’s continued  and rigorous commitment to excellence in machine safety. Safe Remote Control: Our Safe Remote Control System continued to find interesting and worthwhile applications throughout the year with customers in every domain of mobile robotics: in the air, on and under the water, and on land. It also confirmed our belief that all machines are becoming robots by finding new applications from defense to construction vehicles to amusement parks. Custom Projects: While our stock products continued to grow in 2015, we were increasingly grateful for a growing number of custom requests from machinery innovators with complex needs for …

Case Study: HRI Wireless Controller for 5D Robotics

HRI’s Safe Remote Control System delivers reliable, convenient control for military UGVs. Background 5D Robotics creates Behavior Engine (BE™) software that can give unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) the ability to perform a variety of actions, from reactive guarded motion, obstacle avoidance, and follow to deliberative behaviors like mapping, localization, waypoint navigation, and path planning. It also allows plug and play of many different sensors. To operate a robot with such varied and complex functions, 5D Robotics was looking for controllers with customizable interfaces that could be used for a variety of military applications. Working with direction from the military customer, 5D selected two different controller types to support on-the-move squad support missions. As one of the selected controllers, the Safe Remote Control System (SRCS) from Humanistic Robotics was put through extensive testing in the field. It proved itself to be portable to different robots, reliable in the field and reusable across multiple missions. A New Approach to Controlling Robots In the military there wasn’t a good way to detect explosive hazards for soldiers traveling on foot. The technology that did exist wasn’t something they could carry around on their backs, and they needed a way to off-load some of their equipment. 5D Robotics created a solution. A squad support robot that could keep up with the troops and autonomously follow the squad or go in front of them when there is a detected hazard, minefield, or suspected IED. By having follow and lead capabilities on the robot, testing showed that soldiers should only spend roughly 2% – 10% of their time actually driving the robot. This new approach to robot control is more like interacting with a highly trained police dog than traditional teleoperation. “To successfully operate this robot, we needed a controller that would allow the human to provide high-level supervision rather than merely direct driving,” explains David Bruemmer, VP and Chief Technical Officer. “The reliability and functionality, the number of different options, and the feedback opportunities that were available on the SRCS provide value to the warfighter.”   They toyed around with other controllers first. 5D Robotics originally tried using Xbox® controllers to operate their robot, but their signals couldn’t penetrate walls or objects. They also didn’t allow for important feedback from the robot such as follow distance, power supply, battery level, and other critical status information. “Before soldiers had to carry multiple devices,” David remembers, “but, with the SRCS Controller, everything necessary to support a mission is right there.” A controller that can handle the tough jobs. When you’re building something for the military to use, you have to be sure it can survive the toughest working conditions. But tough doesn’t have to mean clunky. It also has to be easy to carry. “Soldiers like the fact that the SRCS is small enough to fit in their pocket.” David continues, “And if they are carrying it in their pocket, the vibration that alerts them when the robot finds a hazard or can’t get over or around something is so strong that they can’t miss it.” Another important feature when considering a controller for a robot is RF noise or radio frequency issues. This isn’t just important in military applications, but also in commercial applications like mining. The SRCS is designed to allow for operation in these difficult situations. A complicated job. A simple solution. With the SRCS Controller, the buttons are reconfigurable and pretty straightforward. David adds, “I like that fact that the controller has an e-stop button. Even if the robot is 1/2 mile away, hit that button and the robot stops. There’s no need to use an additional …

Humanistic Robotics’ SafetySense® Controller featured in SitePrep’s Technology Spotlight – June 2014

What stands out about this product? The SafetySense® Controller provides the ability to wirelessly control machinery in a safe way, without burdening the operator with another heavy tool to carry.  The controller was originally developed for military robotics, where both safety and mobility are extremely important just as they are in the construction industry. To read the full article in SitePrep please visit:      

Humanistic Robotics, Inc., (HRI) Delivers the Future of Wireless Control at CONEXPO-CON/AGG

Humanistic Robotics, Inc., (HRI) a robotics and technology innovator dedicated to making the world safer through engineering and design, is excited to share their SafetySense® Controller with the industry at ConExpo-Con/Agg (Platinum Lot, Booth 9594). After a soft launch in 2013, the SafetySense® Controller now has widespread availability, and with a sales force throughout the U.S. and Canada, HRI is looking to change the way equipment manufacturers view wireless control. To read the full press release please click on the following link. HRI Delivers the Future of Wireless Control