He is not ready to take any job yet, but for the past 8 months he has been working at the Audi factory in Brussels. He helps the human factory workers to assemble the Audi A1 body’s.
Walt is surrounded by more than a hundred other robots.
The big difference is that they are all in cages, while Walt sits free as a bird, amid his human co workers.
He is what is called a compliant collaborative robot, or cobot in short.
He recognises his human colleagues when he sees them, greets them with their name, and looks at their hands so they can give him gesture commands.
Besides his friendly face, Walt can also display icons or short animations, to clearly state his intentions.
Walt sits on the end of a Kuka collaborative robot, that is safe to operate among people.
Slightly Overdone was responsible for the character design, the animation and the integration of Walt’s head and neck.
A natural way of communication between persons requires the presence of a face.
While the human face has a lot of very practical functions, most of its muscular capacity is focused on communication with other humans. The human face is capable of many forms of direct, indirect, even involuntary communication. Therefore a head with a versatile face was designed.
“I have introduced robots in many environments, even in very different cultures, but the Audi factory floor proved to be extra challenging, because the audience here consists of sturdy assembly line workers. The smiling robot face first looked very alien in their working environment, and Walt had to deal with some scepticism at first.
I am convinced that this is the way forward for collaboration between humans and robots in these environments. Very least effect is that it will bring a little extra humanity in the industrial machine world. “ - Jan De Coster