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Supervision and monitoring of logistic spaces by a cooperative robot team: methodologies, problems, and solutions

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Abstract

Mobile robots can be employed in the logistic field to efficiently perform common tasks, such as building and updating maps of indoor and outdoor logistic spaces, locating specific goods on the map, tracing the product flow in the area, while preserving situational awareness and safety of the environment. This paper reports and discusses the main results of the MACP4Log (Mobile Autonomous and Cooperating robotic Platforms for supervision and monitoring of large LOGistic surfaces) research project, aimed at the study and development of a set of algorithms and services, enabling autonomous navigation of a team of mobile robots in large logistic spaces, and exploiting cooperation, through communication with a supervisor and among the robotic platforms. Although the main services required for the robots coincide with the most common issues of mobile robotics (i.e., localization, mapping, SLAM and exploration), the particular characteristics of the logistic spaces introduce specific problems (e.g., related to a high symmetry of the environment and/or to its variability), which must be properly taken into account. The paper discusses in detail such problems, summarizing the main results achieved both from the methodological and the experimental standpoint, and is completed by the description of the general functional architecture of the whole system, including navigation, logistic, and monitoring services.

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Acknowledgments

The project was funded by Regione Piemonte and coordinated by the Robotics Research Group from Politecnico di Torino [61]; the research activity was carried on in collaboration with ERXA s.r.l. [62], a SME specialized in software for industrial robotics applications, and the Istituto Superiore Mario Boella (ISMB) [63], a research institute active in several ICT fields. The authors would like to thank all the people who participated and contributed to the successful results of the MACP4Log project, and in particular Fabrizio Abrate, Jingjing Du, Miguel Kaouk Ng, Vito Macchia, and Federico Tibaldi.

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Correspondence to Marina Indri.

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Bona, B., Carlone, L., Indri, M. et al. Supervision and monitoring of logistic spaces by a cooperative robot team: methodologies, problems, and solutions. Intel Serv Robotics 7, 185–202 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11370-014-0151-0

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