ASTRO — The Robot solution for a Safer and more Productive Workplace

ASTRO by Helios Vision — 3D Visualization

Robots are becoming an increasingly ubiquitous part of our society, providing help with a wide array of tasks such as cleaning our homes, delivering room service or guiding us to our departure gate at the airport. The adoption of robot solutions is becoming a sensible choice, if not a priority, for an increasing number of businesses.

ASTRO is a versatile robot solution designed to improve productivity and safety in the workplace. Its name is an acronym for Assistance, Safety and Telepresence Robot Office-mate (A.S.T.R.O.)
ASTRO Prototype — 3D Avatar

ASTRO uses Artificial Intelligence to solve important problems within the workplace, focusing in particular on keeping people safe, informed and connected, by integrating a powerful set of features in a functional mobile form factor.

Quick access to important information

ASTRO has conversational intelligence which allows it to talk to and assist its fellow colleagues with their queries. Moreover, it can be coupled with popular AI APIs such as Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cognitive Services or IBM Watson for extended capabilities in the cloud.

Keeping people healthy, comfortable, safe

The well-being of people working in the office is a top priority for ASTRO. Using its sensors suite, ASTRO makes sure everything from temperature to air quality stays optimal within the office environment, and broadcasts notifications if anything is out of range.

Making virtual presence simple and efficient

Maintaining a fine level of team communication is essential for distributed teams working together across different cities and time-zones. ASTRO adds a new layer of flexibility and quality for remote video conferences and meetings, by providing a sense of physical presence with colleagues and clients thousands of miles away.

ASTRO prototype — remote presence

Advanced Human-Machine Interaction

ASTRO’s AI-driven 3D avatar can recognize it’s interlocutor and understand voice queries. In a nutshell, ASTRO possesses Audiovisual Conversational Intelligence powered by a suite of cognitive functions such as Face Detection, Emotion Recognition, Advanced Speech and Language Understanding.

Forward-looking visual interface

A very important step in developing the 3D avatar for ASTRO was researching the most popular robot solutions available on the market and analyzing their strengths and weaknesses in regards to visual expression. We noticed a trend for simplified UIs which is not surprising given the technical challenges implied by more complex visual interfaces or fear of the “uncanny valley”.

Fear and challenges aside, in a world where 3D experiences and technologies like VR and AR are bridging the gap between the virtual space and reality, interaction with a computer generated avatar is steadily becoming a norm rather than an exception.

Our visual interface approach for ASTRO blazes a new trail for robot interaction with an intelligent 3D avatar that is aware, responsive and in many ways more relatable.

Navigation and sensing

ASTRO understands it’s surrounding space and discovers all the accessible areas within the office. By combining navigation with a robust sensors suite, it can collect environment data and identify areas with problems and prevent possible hazards.

Sample code for accessing Air quality, CO2, Temperature and Light sensor data with Arduino 101 is available at our Github

Rviz — ROS 3D visualization tool

ASTRO’s navigation capabilities are built with ROS— short for Robot Operating System and Intel RealSense Technology. ROS is composed of open source software libraries and tools that make the task of building robot applications much easier. It supports a wide array of hardware platforms and it ships with state-of-the-art computer vision software.

Cognition

Contemporary advances in Cognitive Science, Natural Language Processing, Computer Vision and Machine Learning have brought robot speech, vision and decision-making capabilities closer to human-level.

Outstanding open libraries and machine learning platforms, such as OpenCV and TensorFlow, can help with much of the heavy work and reduce development time, while toolkits like the Intel Computer Vision SDK provide platform-specific optimizations that allow complex AI solutions to be deployed on edge devices.

An even more attainable route for developers to integrate AI functionality such as Language, Speech, Vision into new products is to use AI cloud frameworks and services like Amazon Alexa, Microsoft Cognitive Services or IBM Watson.

Sample code for using the Azure Cognitive Services Text Analytics API to recognize sentiment and key-phrases from text input is available at our Github.

Security

We use Intel IoT Gateway Technology to add an extra layer of security for storing sensors data in the cloud and communicating with ASTRO from outside the office.

A step-by-step tutorial for connecting the Intel IoT Gateway to popular cloud platforms, such as Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud Network, IBM Watson IoT or Microsoft Azure is available here.

About Helios Vision

Leveraging a background in Computer Vision, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and Human-Computer Interaction, Helios Vision focuses on developing forward-thinking solutions. Our outstanding goal is to create a safer future with AI.