New Technologies – Virtual Robots in Industrial Metaverses

Published: 28.08.2022 – 00:27

Recent developments in 3D virtualization technologies enable the creation of ultra-realistic digital environments. But the high-fidelity metaverses that the young French company is developing are also inhabited by “cobots,” collaborative robots that learn in virtual factories to work in harmony with humans.

The “digital twins” used by manufacturers have long allowed them to perfectly reproduce objects, machines, and even simulate human behavior in the form of avatars. These highly specialized metaverses are infinitely more precise and complex than the virtual and entertainment universes currently offered by the web giants. Companies use them to reproduce workplaces such as offices in 3D, or to study the environmental impact of setting up a future factory, for example.

The metaverses, developed by the French company Skyreal, also unite cohorts of “cobots”, the term of which is an abbreviation of the words “cooperation” and “robot”. The goal is to develop intelligent collaboration between humans and machines, says Hugo Falgarone, director and founder of Skyreal.

“Following the development, in particular for the needs of the automotive industry, fully autonomous robots, i.e. working alone and without the help of an operator, companies have moved to more “collaborative” ones. These new types of machines are called “cobots”. The term, coined in 1999, is an abbreviation in English of “Collaborative Robot”, which translates into French as “collaborative robot”. At present, we have no other option than to test these interactive robots in a virtual environment to check their programming and that their behavior does not pose a danger to the human environment. That’s why we’re using high-fidelity metaverses to simulate a year of work in a factory to see how this collaboration between robots and humans develops.

This virtual “cobotics” will allow to optimize interaction processes, for example, how to order the robot to stop a task or continue working, or to be attentive to its environment and take into account a change in its environment. Airbus Atlantique is currently testing our Industrial Metaverses to test this type of collaboration. In particular, operators will formulate their instructions to robots using gestures or voice commands. This appeal to virtual environments for the development of cobots remains rather confidential at the moment in the industrial sector, which, however, believes that cobotics will soon allow to replace, but not replace the person at the center of the processes. production. »

With or without cobots, the professional metaverses certainly portend the coming industrial revolution. But beyond the economic opportunities offered by immersive technologies deployed in companies, they must be ethical, sustainable and serve well-being at work, decision makers in Europe warn. The EU, as in the case of developments in the field of artificial intelligence in business, intends to regulate new ways of using virtual reality in the workplace.

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