Plug and Produce Robotic Building Blocks

Integration, programming and operation of heterogeneous robot systems, such as mobile manipulators or robots in a machine network, are very complex tasks for plant operators. Heterogeneous system components have to be orchestrated by higher-level control systems. Robot programs are created offline and integrated as macros. System components are generally neither compatible nor interchangeable across manufacturers. These have to be programmed separately in manufacturer-specific tools. Cross-component debugging is difficult. The operation of complex systems requires intensive training and is currently limited to simple graphical user interfaces. As part of process optimization, it is usually necessary to optimize process points during initiation. This requires highly skilled personnel capable of robot programming at the plant operator’s site. The combination of heterogeneous robot modules results in new potential hazards. It is therefore necessary to include an appropriate safety concept.
The main objective of project PlugBot is to implement an environment for development, integration, and configuration of modular and safe robotic systems.
The overall system targets experts with programming skills for system development, and untrained operators for configuration. Therefore it is necessary to refine existing interface standards and to extend them for heterogeneous robot systems.
Innovative programming tools implement skill based programming concepts and combine numerous tools required for heterogeneous systems in one toolchain to allow debugging, programming, configuration and integration of complex robot applications. Tailor-made new operating concepts based on voice input, gesture control, mixed reality (MR) visualizations or wearables will set new standards for the operation of heterogeneous robot systems and are designed with special attention to operators untrained in programming. A comprehensive safety concept for heterogeneous robot systems with respect to possible human robot cooperation is being developed. Innovative tactile safety sensors with integrated control elements not only protect the robot system, but also offer the possibility of exploring a variety of situation-dependent interaction concepts. The project implements diverse use cases with different partners in order to consider as many requirements as possible and to be able to achieve universal applicability, hardware independence and to explore the requirements for productive industrial installations.

Research Topics
Heterogeneous Robot Systems, Standardised Interfaces for Complex Robot Systems, Intuitive Programming and Operation of Complex Robot Systems, Safe Human Machine Collaboration

04/2019 - 03/2021

Project Management
Markus Ikeda (PROFACTOR, Overall project lead)
FH-Prof. DI (FH) Dr. techn. Roman Froschauer (FH OÖ)


The project PlugBot (FFG #874293) is funded by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency FFG in "Production of the Future".

Blue Danube Robotics GmbH
FH OÖ Forschungs & Entwicklungs GmbH
FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH
HABA Verpackung GmbH
JOANNEUM RESEARCH Forschungsgesellschaft mbH
Lenze Operations Austria GmbH
PROFACTOR GmbH (Koordination)
Sony DADC Europe Limited Austria Branch
WB Wittmann Group Holding GmbH

FH OÖ Forschungs und Entwicklungs GmbH
Roseggerstraße 15, 4600 Wels, Austria