Hybrid Social Teams for Long-Term Collaboration in Cyber-Physical Environments

The project HySociaTea is a cooperation between various research departments at DFKI GmbH combining the competencies of the complete spectrum of Artificial Intelligence. HySociaTea is an R&D project which is embedded in the future strategy Industry-4.0 and deals with the development of flexible production and mission processes. The basic idea in HySociaTea is that the production environment of the future will consist of a team of humans closely collaborating with robots and virtual agents. The team can flexibly react to incoming requirements. The project establishes the basis for such a team by considering setup, communication and role allocation in such a hybrid team.

Duration: 01.09.2014 till 31.08.2016
Donee: German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH
Sponsor: Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Grant number: This project is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF), grant no. 01IW14001.
Application Field: Assistance- and Rehabilitation Systems
Related Projects: SemProM
Semantic Product Memory (02.2008- 01.2011)
Related Robots: AILA
Mobile Dual-Arm-Manipulation
Compliant Robot Arm

Project details

Components of HySociaTea (Graphic: Sirko Straube)
The project HySociaTea (Hybrid Social Teams for Long-Term Collaboration in Cyber-Physical Environments), which is funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, realizes and examines the collaboration of technological augmented humans with autonomous robots, virtual characters and softbots, who work together in a team to solve common tasks.
In the context of Industry 4.0, an example application for these hybrid social teams is the realization of a highly flexible production, in which the team can react on unplanned events by autonomous reorganization. Besides research on the technical feasibility, another key aspect of the project lies in the development of robotic team-competencies as well as on intelligent multi-agent behavior, both of which are also important aspects in purely human teams. The technical systems developed in HySociaTea are mainly meant to be used as assistance-systems for humans working in production-plants – the robots should therefore be perceived as partners in the overall working-process.
On the long run, the team organization, as developed and examined in HySociaTea, can be used in different real-world scenarios, e.g. in modularized production facilities in the factory of the future, as rescue teams in emergency situations, or to realize the necessary division of labor between humans and machines to safely deconstruct nuclear power plants.
In order to realize the vision of HySociaTea, different research departments from all DFKI locations (Bremen, Kaiserslautern, Saarbrücken) join their competencies:
  • RIC (Robotics Innovations Center, DFKI Bremen): autonomous and cooperative robotic systems, mobile manipulation
  • CPS (Cyber-Physical Systems, DFKI Bremen): safe human-robot interaction
  • EI (Embedded Intelligence, DFKI Kaiserslautern): augmented humans, wearable sensors
  • AV (Augmented Vision, DFKI Kaiserslautern): perception modules using image processing and sensor fusion
  • KM (Knowledge Management, DFKI Kaiserslautern): gaze-controlled perception recognition, real-time object-recognition
  • IUI (Intelligent User Interfaces, DFKI Saarbrücken): emosocial virtual characters, multimodal dialog platform
  • LT (Language Technology Lab, DFKI Saarbrücken): autonomous team-reorganization, natural speech interaction
  • ASR (Agents and Simulated Reality, DFKI Saarbrücken): communication middleware, Dual Reality


HySociaTea: Selected features from the final project demonstration

This video shows selected technologies of the HySociaTea scenario: the any-time resource planner, the object recognition using the information from the eye tracker, speech interaction with the robots and the virtual character, autonomous task allocation of the robots and autonomous robot-robot interaction.

HySociaTea: Autonomous robot-robot collaboration of Compi and AILA

This video shows the autonomous robot-robot collaboration in HySociaTea using the TECS framework. The Compi robot takes item to be delivered and reports that a delivery is required. AILA recognizes that she can handle the task and takes over. The handover is realized using a communication protocol.

HySociaTea: Customized Packaging Scenario

The Video illustrates the first demo setting and procedure with the Hybrid Team.



Hybrid Teams of Humans, Robots and Virtual Agents in a Production Setting
Tim Schwartz, Michael Feld, Christian Bürckert, Svilen Dimitrov, Joachim Folz, Peter Hevesi, Dieter Hutter, Bernd Kiefer, Hans-Ulrich Krieger, Christoph Lüth, Dennis Mronga, Gerald Pirkl, Torsten Spieldenner, Malte Wirkus, Ingo Zinnikus, Sirko Straube
In Proceedings of the 12th International Conference on Intelligent Environments, (IE-16), 12.9.-13.9.2016, London, IEEE, Sep/2016.
Hybrid Teams: Flexible Collaboration Between Humans, Robots and Virtual Agents
Tim Schwartz, Hans-Ulrich Krieger, Ingo Zinnikus, Christian Bürckert, Joachim Folz, Bernd Kiefer, Peter Hevesi, Christoph Lüth, Gerald Pirkl, Torsten Spieldenner, Norbert Schmitz, Malte Wirkus, Sirko Straube
Editors: Matthias Klusch, Rainer Unland, Onn Shehory, Alexander Pokhar, Sebastian Ahrndt
In Proceedings of the 14th German Conference on Multiagent System Technologies (Mates 2016), (MATES-2016), 27.9.-30.9.2016, Klagenfurt, Springer, series Lecture Notes in Artificial Intelligence, volume 9872, pages 131-146, Sep/2016.
Development of a Self-Adaptive Gripper and Implementation of a Gripping Reflex to Increase the Dynamic Payload Capacity
Marc Manz, Sebastian Bartsch, Marc Simnofske, Frank Kirchner
In In Proceedings of ISR 2016, (ISR-2016), 21.6.-22.6.2016, München, VDE VERLAG GMBH, pages 56-62, Jun/2016. ISBN: 978-3-8007-4231-8.
Hybride Teams in der digitalen Vernetzung der Zukunft
Sirko Straube, Tim Schwartz
In Industrie 4.0 Management, Gito mbH Verlag für Industrielle Informationstechnik und Organisation, volume 5, pages 41-45, Apr/2016.
Zusammen mit Robotern am Arbeitsplatz - Neue Bedienkonzepte eröffnen den Weg für neue Robotikanwendungen
Malte Wirkus, Vinzenz Bargsten
In Industrie 4.0 Management, Gito mbH Verlag für Industrielle Informationstechnik und Organisation, volume 2, pages 29-32, 2016.

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