Harmony: Enhancing Healthcare with Assistive Robotic Mobile Manipulation

Professor Sethu Vijayakumar looks at flexible and safe autonomous mobile manipulation robots for use in human-centred environments by making fundamental contributions in cognitive mechatronic technologies as part of his new H2020 project, HARMONY.

The work will contribute to the wider consortium with the project partners: ETH Zurich, TU Delft, University of Bonn, University of Twente, CREATE, ABB and others.


The vision of Harmony is to enable robust, flexible and safe autonomous mobile manipulation technology for use in human-centred environments. The team will need to make several fundamental contributions to existing cognitive mechatronic technologies, i.e. a combination of better machines as well as better action and awareness. The success of the project also relies on integrating these technologies into a user-intuitive framework, ultimately enabling robotic mobile manipulation systems that can integrate seamlessly into our existing spaces without the need to fully re-engineer our environments for robot operation.

The consortium will develop perception to formalise an object-based world representation; robotic localisation and mapping for an object-based environment; motion planning to provide adaptive, congestion-free motion plans in human-centred spaces; learning methods for grasping and manipulation from demonstration via an immersive control interface; robust and compliant whole-body motion planning and control for interacting with unknown objects; and human-robot interaction to deliver safety and acceptability recommendations for the use of mobile manipulators in human-centred environments.

The target use cases lie in the healthcare domain and these introduce additional requirements to the project outcomes. Thus, the objectives of Harmony will address both scientific/technical advancements as well as ethical/regulatory issues. Both play an important role in promoting industry take-up and social acceptance and a combined assessment will substantially elevate the tangible outcomes of the project.