‘A core requirement for any home-centric robot application is the ability to navigate interior spaces safely and reliably,’ said Doug Bercow, SRI’s director of business development. ‘SRI’s navigation software leverages existing navigation technologies that have been validated in military and transportation robotics and can easily transfer to robots for residential use.’
In 2006, Robosoft launched robuBOX, a robotic programming system that allows the development of interfaces to make daily tasks transparent to users. In 2007, SRI International released its Karto software development kit that enables robotic solutions developers to integrate intelligent navigation, mapping and exploration capabilities into their mobile robot platforms. ‘Karto has been tested on more than twenty different robots and is compatible with more than a dozen laser sensors. The technology behind Karto is the result of over two decades R&D by SRI International and is exceedingly accurate for generating large area maps of up to 2,000 square metres, which are accurate to within one centimetre,’ SRI reports, adding that Karto is available for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS.
From 2008, the two companies began a collaboration to integrate SRI’s Karto navigation software on the robuBOX. ‘The robuBOX, with Karto navigation software, is a complete and flexible set of service robotics programming solutions,’ the firms conclude, adding that the robuLAB10 robot, equipped with a voice interface allowing access to internet services ‘is a proof-of-concept demonstration’. The system is being designed for developers and integrators who aim to build a service robot for domestic environments. ‘The next three-year phase will focus on developing a turnkey solution with relevant technology suppliers and partners, with the intention of large scale deployment of such eldercare robots.’
Prior to the launch of the robuBOX development, several robots equipped with preliminary versions of this system were already in use — the tele-echography robot Estelle in four French hospitals; robuCAB, an automatic vehicle guided by GPS, and generic mobile platforms like the robuLAB10 for home assistance, and the robuROC for safety.