Service Robots in Catering Applications: A Review and Future Challenges
2. Service Robots Statistics
3. Classification of Service Robots
3.1. Professional Service Robots
- Defence Robots
- Field Robots
- Robots in medical settings
- Logistic Robotic Systems
- Maintenance Robots
3.2. Personal Service Robots
- Social Robots
- Domestic Cleaner Robots
- Research/Educational/Competition Robots
- Assistance Robots
- Therapeutic Robots
4. An Emerging Class of Service Robot: Catering Robotics
4.1. Classification of Catering Robots
4.2. Challenges for a Waiter Robot
- By humans, for humans. The objects and the environment are adapted perfectly to humans and their capabilities.
- Presence of people. The robot can be close to users while they move.
- Other actors. Other robots can collaborate.
- Conditions of the object. The objects can be located in different places at different times, or even change in shape and size.
- Architectural obstacles. The robot can be encountered with doors or stairs.
- Sensory variations. Some examples are changes in brightness, background sounds, or dirty surfaces.
- Dynamic variations. The scenario may change independently of the robot interaction.
- Real-Time Constraints. The robot must know the implicit environment restrictions.
- Use of tools. Some tasks require the use of particular tools.
5. The Approach to Develop a Waiter Robot
- Take orders from guests like food and drinks
- Deliver orders to the correct customer.
- Welcome clients at the entrance.
- Guide customers to their seats.
- Cheer clients up by recognising their mood.
- Take reservations for the seat.
- Grasp dishes or drinks.
- More duties …
5.1. The Architecture for the Waiter Robot
- “On Human Form”. Human scenarios are usually suitably adapted to the shape of human beings. Sometimes, benefiting of these conditions, humanoid robots are able to make easier handling works. For instance, in the human scenarios, we can find different objects over a horizontal surface in most case. A human could reach them adequately in these locations. In the same way, a humanoid should recognise and handle these objects more efficiently if its manipulator touch or its sensors point to this horizontal plane. Obviously, all the objects manufactured are conceived to be used by a human hand. So, we will design grippers with a variety of grip ranges to handle multiples and different objects.A logical method to implement humanoids that emulate the human shape is taking advantage of the features of the scenarios where humans live. In this way, the waiter robot could go upstairs, or open doors locate dishes on the table or kitchen or interact in a friendly way with guests (Figure 9) [60,61,62].
- “Designing for Uncertainty”. Traditionally, industrial robots have avoided compliance control for the robot at the expense of stiff, precise, and fast operation. This one is a compromise on the design when the state of the job is known. Force and compliance control is more profitable for collaboration with customers safely in human scenarios. It can be applied while examining the environment or coping with uncertainty.In the design of a robot hand, a good example could be the optimisation of different parameters. The idea can consist of improving object grasp with uncertain physical properties. We can build a hand out of compliant elements of variable stiffness. We can incorporate position or tactile sensors or include tendons for the actuation. Combining the compliance of the hand and a new versatility, we could make robust grasping. Even it could grasp different objects with sensing uncertainties.Our humanoid robot developed by the “RoboticsLab” research group uses F-T (Force–Torque) sensors in both wrists of the arms. These sensors offer the possibility to have a compliant control of the tray of the waiter robot. This compliance allows us to work in unknown environments (external disturbance) and to adapt to geometric uncertainty (balance position). On our robot TEO, this compliant control helps to control the stability of the transported object in an unknown scenario where the robot can be disturbed by human’s hit, the whole-body controller, or the own balance control of the object [63,64].
- “Safety”. Robots have to be safe if they work with people. In the traditional industry, robots with manipulation are hazardous, so it is generally forbidden to enter into the workspace of a robot when working. The damage generally happens during accidental physical contact. Above all, impacts are the most critical, and those depend on the speed, mass and other characteristics of the robot .There are already companies that are adding some security elements to their robots. Some examples of such companies are Neuronics or KUKA. In the case of Neuronics, the Katana robot has been developed. Its safety methods are based on the use of lightweight materials, low speeds and low power. In the case of KUKA, the IIWA arm is a robot with a compliance controller. The controller is capable of adjusting its compliance using the feedback of its torque sensors.Other methods are based on mechanical safety like the Manus robot. This robot has some current limiters in the motors to avoid the forces of impact. In the case of the waiter robot, the ability to adjust the compliance of the body will allow better control of the stability of the robot and the transported object [66,67,68].
5.2. Interaction between Humans and Robots
- “Facial expression”. The identification of facial expression allows a waiter robot a natural way of interacting with clients. Robots can use this tool to know if their actions are executed correctly or to express empathy. Nevertheless, we must address some challenges before a waiter robot could fully employ this method of communication.
- “Acoustic localisation”. Based on acoustics and for humans, talking is an effortless way to communicate. Therefore, verbal communication is apparently the most intuitive way to communicate with a waiter robot. In this regard, a robot that can listen and talk will develop a robust interaction with humans .
- “Pointing gestures”. This one is another promising and intuitive way of communication [77,78]. Signalling with a gesticulation can show objects, locations, or the number of orders of the same drink for an application of a waiter robot. Describing the shape of an object or its localisation verbally can be more difficult and less precise than pointing the object . However, pointing gestures are not easy to recognise . The difficulty lies in a precise 3D detection of the positions of hands or the face in motion of a new client in a non-static environment under unknown and changing lighting conditions. Besides, the identification of a designated point at the appropriate moment is complex when the client is signalling the point.
5.3. Robot Motion Planning
- “Robot location”. For the question “Where am I in the restaurant?”, robot location gives the solution. For the question “how should I get to the table?”, The route planning gives the solution. Or even, “where am I going?” In the end, the process of construction and interpretation of the map defines the geometric representation of the scenario of the robot.Related to the waiter robot’s reference frame, the idea is to describe the position in the restaurant. This operation is necessary to know the position of tables, doors, or even people moving.
- “Path planning”. This one can be local or global. On the one hand, the planning of the local route is applied to dynamic scenarios. While the robot is obtaining sensory information and walking, this one is planning. Moreover, a different route is created if the environment has changed.On the other hand, the planning of the global trajectory can only be done if the environment is static, without modifications. In this case, the robot knows the scenario correctly.
- “Motion planning”. This one is related to the method of selection of movements and their corresponding inputs. At the same time, all restrictions must be met (avoidance of obstacles, avoidance of risks, etc.).Motion planning can be described as an algorithm based on a set of computations. These computations provide sub-objectives or set points for robot control. These computations and the resulting plans are based on a proper model of the robot and the environment in which it is moving .
5.4. Plan Execution
- Move to a table.
- Look for a proper workspace.
- Manipulate food and drinks.
- Come back and so on.
- “Pre-programmed capabilities”. In this procedure, the robotic platform has pre-programmed skills, like navigating to the kitchen, following a person, serve a drink, etc. Related to this strategy and based on commands, the robotic platform could do these works. Nevertheless, at the end, the solution of the performance of more and different intricate works in dynamical environments would be impossible.
- “Plan execution system”. The other method is to use a plan execution system. With the composition of different pre-programmed robot capacities, this plan execution system concedes the resolution of intricate tasks. For the domain of the waiter robots, it can be quite complex if all the objects should be modelled within the planning area (tables, chairs, other waiters, dishes, cutlery). This complicated domain can do the planning issue unmanageable.A deliberative system supports the translation process (from actions to commands). Here, the plan execution system might request extra data to interpret the responses. For instance, it is possible to claim the deliberative system the position of other waiters or the location of the table where the chips should be served. The plan execution supervises the performance of the task to check if the objective is reached. In the case of a non-repairable failure, it will request the planning system to produce a new plan [44,90,91,92,93].
Institutional Review Board Statement
Informed Consent Statement
Data Availability Statement
Conflicts of Interest
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|UAV||They are used from the air. Sometimes they are known as drones. UAVs look like model aeroplanes and vary in size from small planes to full-size planes.|
|UGV||They are robots that work in contact with the ground. Usually, UGVs are employed for jobs where it may be inconvenient, dangerous, or the presence of a human is impossible.|
|UUV||These marvels have capabilities to operate underwater. The UUVs were designed to contribute to the following mission areas: Mine Warfare, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance and Mapping undersea environmental.|
|Delivery/Nurse||These robots aim to carry meds, lab specimens, sterile supplies, linens, trash, medical waste, patient meals and even disinfect bacteria or viruses.|
|Rehabilitation||Rehabilitation robotics is based on assisting different sensorimotor functions, development of different schemes of assisting therapeutic training, or assessment of the sensorimotor performance of the patient.|
|Surgical||The purpose of this kind of robots is to give enhanced diagnostic capabilities, a less invasive and comfier experience for the patient, or the capability to perform more accurate interventions.|
|Indoor||This type of robot performs household cleaning tasks inside the house. Nowadays, it its possible to find numerous and different household tasks that have been automated and replaced by cleaner service robots. In fact, in the market, there are robots that sweep and scrub the floor, robots that clean the windows of difficult access or robots that clean the air.|
|Outdoor||This type of robot performs its tasks outside the house. On this side, it is possible to find other tasks that robots can also perform. For example, there are robots that cut the grass, robots that clean the pool or even robots that unblock pipes.|
|At hospital||The operation of a hospital or health centre comprises a complex system of tasks. These tasks are not only limited to medical care but also require a combination of logistics, administration and organisation tasks.|
|At home||The demand for home care services and facilities is growing. The ambient intelligent systems provide their service in a sensitive and receptive manner and are discrete in our environment. Supervision systems are used to monitor users or patients in their homes related to the healthcare process.|
|Prostheses||Prostheses are defined as external devices that partial or totally replace a limb. This definition includes any device placed within the body for structural or functional purposes.|
|Orthoses||Orthoses are an external device that is used to modify the structural and functional characteristics of the neuromuscular and skeletal system. It does not replace a member or organ but replaces or reinforces its functionality.|
|Rehabilitation Aids||This Rehabilitation Aid systems or treatments (therapies) help to recover motor functionality through training. This training is based on physical or cognitive exercises, and the therapy is adapted to the patient.|
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Garcia-Haro, J.M.; Oña, E.D.; Hernandez-Vicen, J.; Martinez, S.; Balaguer, C. Service Robots in Catering Applications: A Review and Future Challenges. Electronics 2021, 10, 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10010047
Garcia-Haro JM, Oña ED, Hernandez-Vicen J, Martinez S, Balaguer C. Service Robots in Catering Applications: A Review and Future Challenges. Electronics. 2021; 10(1):47. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10010047Chicago/Turabian Style
Garcia-Haro, Juan Miguel, Edwin Daniel Oña, Juan Hernandez-Vicen, Santiago Martinez, and Carlos Balaguer. 2021. "Service Robots in Catering Applications: A Review and Future Challenges" Electronics 10, no. 1: 47. https://doi.org/10.3390/electronics10010047