Brief description

Mobile robotic technology and its application in various sectors is currently an area of high interest. Research in this field promises advanced developments and novelties in many aspects. Applications of mobile robotic technology in public spaces can be found in a field that we informally term “robots in exhibitions”. In this context, robots can offer alternative ways for interactive access to exhibition spaces. Two EU funded projects, namely TOURBOT and WebFAIR, addressed the above goal. TOURBOT started January 2000 and ended successfully February 2002; it pursued the development of an interactive tour-guide robot able to provide individual access to museums’ exhibits over the Internet. The results of TOURBOT were demonstrated through the installation and operation of the system in the real environment of the three museums that participated in the project as well as other interested organizations. WebFAIR started December 2001 and ended May 2004. WebFAIR built on TOURBOT results and extended relevant developments to the more demanding environments of trade shows. Additionally, WebFAIR introduced tele-conferencing between the remote user and on-site attendants and employed a multi-robot platform, facilitating thus simultaneous robot control by multiple users. In order to cope with the requirements imposed by the specific application areas of TOURBOT and WebFAIR, a number of scientific, technological and technical issues were addressed. Several techniques to cope with specific problems have been developed in the above mentioned projects. Among them are techniques for mapping large environments, an obstacle-avoidance technique that relies on laser-vision fusion to detect objects that are invisible to the laser scanner, and an approach to filter out range measurements coming from moving persons in the process of map construction. A very important factor for the acceptance of a robotic tour-guide by the broader public is the degree to which the system smoothly interacts with both web and on-site visitors. For this reason, in both projects special emphasis was put in the development of appropriate user interfaces. We also addressed aspects of the developed interfaces, such as a speech interface for on-site users and a flexible web-interface with enhanced visualization capabilities for remote users.

Sample results

Lefkos gives a tour-guide to the visitors of the FHW (Foundation of the Hellenic World)

Download video

Contributors

Several people have been involved; please refer to the project web pages.

Relevant publications

  • P. Trahanias, W. Burgard, A.A. Argyros, D. Haehnel, H. Baltzakis, P. Pfaff, C. Stachniss, “Tourbot and WebFair: Web Operated Mobile Robots for Telepresence in Populated Exhibitions”, IEEE Robotics and Automation Magazine, Special issue on EU-funded projects in Robotics, in press.
  • H. Baltzakis, A.A. Argyros, P. Trahanias, “Fusion of Laser and Visual Data for Reliable Robot Motion Planning and Collision Avoidance”, International Journal of Machine Vision and Applications, Vol 15, pp. 92–100, 2003.
  • W. Burgard, P. Trahanias, D. Haehnel, M. Moors, D. Schulz, H. Baltzakis, A.A. Argyros, “Tele-presence in Populated Exhibitions through Web-operated Mobile Robots”, Autonomous Robots, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Vol. 15, pp. 299-316, 2003.
  • K. Bekris, K. Hatzopoulos, G. Kazazakis, G. Kontolemakis, M. Masvoula, N. Tsivourakis, A.A. Argyros, P. Trahanias, “PYTHEAS: An Integrated Robotic System with Autonomous Navigation Capabilities”, Journal of Image Processing & Communications, Special Issue on Intelligent Sensing, Image Processing and Applications, Vol. 8, no. 2, pp.81-92, 2002.
  • P. Trahanias, W. Burgard, D. Haehnel, M. Moors, D. Schulz, H. Baltzakis, A.A. Argyros, “Interactive Tele-Presence in Exhibitions Through Web-Operated Robots”, in proceedings of the 11th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR’03), invited session on Robotics and Art, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal, June 30 - July 3, 2003.
  • W. Burgard, P. Trahanias, D. Haehnel, M. Moors, D. Schulz, H. Baltzakis, A.A. Argyros, “TOURBOT and WebFAIR: Web-Operated Mobile Robots for Tele-Presence in Populated Exhibitions”, IEEE / RSJ International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS'02), Full-Day Workshop in “Robots in Exhibitions”, EPFL, Lausanne, Switzerland, October 1, 2002.
  • H. Baltzakis, A.A. Argyros, P. Trahanias, “Fusion of Range and Visual Data for the Extraction of Scene Structure Information”, in proceedings of the International Conference on Pattern Recognition (ICPR’02), vol. 4, pp 7-11, Quebec, Canada, August 11-15, 2002.
  • M. Roussou, P. Trahanias, G. Giannoulis, G. Kamarinos, A.A. Argyros, D. Tsakiris, P. Georgiadis, W. Burgard, D. Haehnel, A. Cremers, D. Schulz, M. Moors, E. Spirtounias, M. Marianthi, V. Savvaides, A. Reitelman, D. Konstantios, A. Katselaki “Experiences from the Use of a Robotic Avatar in a Museum Setting”, Virtual Reality Archaeology and Cultural Heritage International Symposium (VAST’01), Glyfada, Athens, Greece, December 28-30, 2001.
  • A.A. Argyros, P. Georgiades, P. Trahanias, D. Tsakiris “Semi-Autonomous Navigation of a Robotic Wheelchair”, in proceedings of the KTISIVIOS Panhellenic Conference in Robotics and Automation, Santorini, Greece, July 28-29, 2001.
  • K. Bekris, K. Hatzopoulos, G. Kazazakis, G. Kontolemakis, M. Masvoula, N. Tsivourakis, A.A. Argyros, P. Trahanias, “PYTHEAS: An Integrated Robotic System with Autonomous Navigation Capabilities”, in proceedings of the KTISIVIOS Panhellenic Conference in Robotics and Automation, Santorini, Greece, July 28-29, 2001.
  • G. Giannoulis, M. Coliou, George S. Kamarinos, Maria Roussou, P. Trahanias, A.A. Argyros, D. Tsakiris, A. Cremers, D. Schultz, W. Burgard, D. Haehnel, V. Savvaides, P. Friess, D. Konstantios, A. Katselaki, “Enhancing Museum Visitor Access Through Robotic Avatars Connected to the Web”, in proceedings of Museums and the Web 2001, Seattle, USA, March 14-17, 2001.
  • P. Trahanias, A.A. Argyros, D. Tsakiris, A. Cremers, D. Schulz, W. Burgard, D. Haehnel, V. Savvaides, G. Giannoulis, M. Coliou, G. Kamarinos, P. Friess, D. Konstantios, A. Katselaki, “TOURBOT: Interactive Museum Telepresence through Robotic Avatars”, in proceedings of the 9th International World Wide Web Conference, Culture Track, Session A-2: Museums on the Web - Case Study, Organizer: A.M. Ronchi, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 15-19, 2000.

The electronic versions of the above publications can be downloaded from my publications page.