Project

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 779942.

Overview

Crowdbot

CrowdBot is a European Union Horizon 2020 (EU H2020) project for research and innovation in the area of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), and funded by the European Commission for the period of January 2018─June 2021. The official name of the project is “Safe Navigation of Robots in Dense Human Crowds”, which is also the focus area of our research activities. The name “CrowdBot” is an amalgam of human “crowd” and machine “bot.” We also lovingly refer to any of our three robots as a CrowdBot. 

Consortium

The CrowdBot Team ─also known as the CrowdBot Consortium under official EU H2020 terminology─ is comprised of leading experts and researchers from the following academic institutions and commercial enterprises:

  • French Institute for Research in Computer Science & Automation (INRIA), France.
  • University College, London (UCL).
  • Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETHZ), Switzerland.
  • Rheinisch-Westfälische Technische Hochschule, Aachen University (RWTH), Germany.
  • SoftBank Robotics, Europe (SBRE), France.
  • École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), Switzerland.
  • Locomotec (LOC), Germany.

Read more about the team members

Our robots

The CrowdBot project is not robot-specific. Our goal is to provide technologies for a variety of mobile robot, including humanoid-like robot such as Pepper from SoftBank Robotics, service robots such as cuyBot from Locomotec, or assistive robots such as smart wheelchairs or the Qolo from University of Tsukuba. CrowdBot is integrating solutions for all those platforms, and beyond. Read more about our robots…

Project objectives

CrowdBot will enable mobile robots to navigate autonomously and assist humans in crowded areas. Today’s robots are programmed to stop when a human, or any obstacle is too close, to avoid coming into contact while moving. This prevents robots from entering densely frequented areas and performing effectively in these high dynamic environments. CrowdBot aims to fill in the gap in knowledge on close interactions between robots and humans during navigation tasks. The project considers three realistic scenarios:

  1. A semi-autonomous wheelchair that must adapt its trajectory to unexpected movements of people in its vicinity to ensure neither its user nor the pedestrians around it are injured;
  2. The commercially available Pepper robot that must navigate in a dense crowd while actively approaching people to assist them;
  3. The under development robot cuyBot will adapt to compact crowd, being touched and pushed by people.

These scenarios generate numerous ethical and safety concerns which this project addresses through a dedicated Ethical and Safety Advisory Board that will design guidelines for robots engaging in interaction in crowded environments. CrowdBot gathers the required expertise to develop new robot capabilities to allow robots to move in a safe and socially acceptable manner. This requires achieving step changes in

  1. Sensing abilities to estimate the crowd motion around the robot,
  2. Cognitive abilities for the robot to predict the short term evolution of the crowd state and
  3. Navigation abilities to perform safe motion at close range from people.

Through demonstrators and open software components, CrowdBot will show that safe navigation tasks can be achieved within crowds and will facilitate incorporating its results into mobile robots, with significant scientific and industrial impact. By extending the robot operation field toward crowded environments, we enable possibilities for new applications, such as robot-assisted crowd traffic management.

Roadmap

Technology Development
Project Milestones
Robotic Tests