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CONVINCE project kicked off to improve autonomy of robots

CONVINCE, a European project coordinated by the Italian Institute of Technology (IIT), has been awarded over €4 million in EU funding under the Horizon Europe Programme.

The principal aim of the project is to develop and verify cognitive deliberation capabilities in autonomous robots.  The project will last for three and a half years and involves 10 international partners.

Robots have been increasingly deployed outside strictly controlled environments. When faced with unexpected situations, they are often incapable of taking appropriate action and require human intervention. The goal of CONVINCE is to advance the capabilities of robots to perform complex tasks robustly and safely within unstructured environments, autonomously adapting to the surrounding environment and to the operational context they face.

More specifically, the key contribution is to develop cognitive deliberation capabilities that ensure safe robot operation over extended periods of time without human intervention. These capabilities will be integrated into a model-driven software toolchain to allow developers to build application-specific deliberation systems that determine the behavior requirements needed to fulfill a given task.  These requirements take into account the context in which the robot operates, and the experience gained during previous executions of the same task. The toolchain will be based on proven system modeling concepts, particularly from the EU-funded project RobMoSys, and will therefore improve the robustness of the robotic decision-making software both in preventing software failures and in suggesting corrective actions that should be taken during the task execution.

To ensure real-world applicability, CONVINCE will test the technology developed in the project on three different real-world use cases: vacuum cleaner robot, assembly robot, and robotic museum guide, each comprising unique technical challenges.  In these scenarios, there is an increasing level of complexity, given by the degree of interaction of the robotic system with humans: the robotic vacuum cleaner mostly works in total autonomy, the assembly robot may interact with qualified and experienced personnel, while the robotic museum guide must interface with a heterogeneous, non-expert audience.

To foster its adoption by the robotic community, CONVINCE toolchain will be developed with adapters to relevant robotics frameworks like the Robot Operating System (ROS).  The software will be offered under an open-source license.

“This approach will be possible thanks to the multidisciplinary expertise of the consortium, that spans basic, applied research and product development: companies and research organizations that share a strong history of open-source development,” explained Lorenzo Natale, IIT researcher and CONVINCE coordinator.

The CONVINCE European consortium includes Italian Institute of Technology (Italy, coordinator), Università degli Studi di Genova (Italy), Commissariat à l’Énergie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (France), Robert Bosch GmbH (Germany), Cleia (France), Comune di Torino (Italy), Fondazione Torino Musei (Italy), Inventya Ventures (EU) limited (Ireland), Timelex (Belgium), University of Birmingham (UK).

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