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Team ViGIR

Team ViGIR

Darmstadt Germany, Blacksburg VA, Corvallis OR, Ithaca NY & Hanover Germany

Team ViGIR (Virginia-Germany Interdisciplinary Robotics), comprising researchers from TORC Robotics, Technische Universität (TU) Darmstadt, Virginia Tech, Oregon State University, Cornell University, and Leibniz University Hanover is a collaborative research and development effort aimed at advancing the state-of-the-art in humanoid robot control in order to allow for effective human-robot teams. Our goal is to enable robots to respond more effectively to humanitarian disasters, thereby reducing the risk to humans. Our developers have backgrounds in computer science, mechanical engineering, and electrical engineering. Team ViGIR initially assembled in October 2012 with members from TORC Robotics, TU Darmstadt, and Virgina Tech to compete in the June 2013 Virtual Challenge. We have expanded to include researchers from six research groups spread across nine time zones, with individual members from six countries.

Our focus is on developing innovative control concepts that allow the human operators to direct the robot to perform various tasks under constrained communications. The approach involves innovative user interface concepts with task directed autonomous control onboard the robot. By making effective use of the human's superior capabilities for perception and high-level reasoning, the human operator can direct the robot through various tasks necessary to respond to humanitarian disasters.
Our Atlas robot is named "Florian" after the patron saint of fire fighters; the "Florian Cross" is seen on many fire-fighter logos across the world. With robots like Florian, first-responders could perform the most hazardous activities in future disaster response operations from a safe and remote location. In the future, robots like Florian will work with their human counterparts to reduce casualties, avoid further destruction, and save lives.

In addition to the stock Atlas platform developed by Boston Dynamics, Team ViGIR has added two grippers developed by Robotiq, and custom electrics for tactile sensing and a hand mounted camera.

The robot is primarily a research prototype; the team will open source key parts of its software to foster research and development in robots for disaster response. The team also hopes to continue research with Florian after the finals towards this goal.

The robot is an Atlas robot developed by Boston Dynamics. What makes our system, including the software and operator interface, unique is the approach to Collaborative Perception and Action. The operators provide task level direction to the robot via the Operator Control Station, which uses multiple modalities to communication situational awareness to the operator. The onboard behavior executive directs the robot by invoking system capabilities, and provides multiple levels of autonomy that allow operators the flexibility to determine how closely to supervise the robot.

Team details last modified: May 20, 2015
193 cm
160 kg