As part of Farabi Integrated Library System, MK6 the robot manages tasks such as automatic counting, searching and locating, reporting misplaced books and helping check outs. The robot is able to give a tour for guests and protocol; lead users in the library or guide them verbally to help them find the books they are searching.
Farabi Integrated Library System digitizes collections – mainly precious manuscripts from Ottoman era – through Optical Character Recognition and makes them available online for public access. Library management is enabled via RFID tagging and tracking.
Using various sensors such as laser scanner, depth sensor and ultrasonic sensors, MK6 orients itself in space and avoids obstacles. Adjustable RFID antennas within the body enable the robot to track books at different height levels.
The locomotion was initially made by two fixed wheels in front and a unidirectional wheel at the back. To increase balance and efficiency, 4 wheels with motors at was implemented. Enhanced motors and wheels with better surface grip was used to prevent carpets in the library becoming obstacles.
A neutral look with basic forms and colors palette is aimed for the visual design language. Anthropomorphism approach was adopted in a neutral way to avoid kitsch human-like physical features. Proportions were balanced by reducing the height, which also helped to have a friendlier look.
As the project brief included batch production, design was detailed to be feasible in low volume manufacturing. Main supports are constructed of metal components such as laser cut sheet metals and standard profiles. Body is made of fiberglass for a lightweight and cost efficient design.
Main hardware components are located at the lower body to balance center of gravity. For an enhanced accessibility of components in the case of malfunction or maintenance, lower body is made out of two detachable covers in front and back. Batteries are also replaced this way.
A circular cross-section is used in main body to provide turning movement of 180 degrees to the upper body. This allows robot to sense depth in diverse directions without steering and to orient its position according to user location during interaction.
Upper body components can be reached by removing the back cover. Direct access for removal of touchscreen is provided by a lockable rotating panel. To prevent overheating, air vents from bottom to top were placed to enable cross ventilation.
Interaction is made through verbal communication as the system has speech and vision recognition. The touchscreen also allows the use of embedded software. LED lights support interaction with changing colors as signals.
The project is implemented at the library of Yildiz Palace, which is a vast complex of former imperial Ottoman pavilions built in 19th century in Istanbul, Turkey. The assistive robot is planned to be developed further to be used in warehouse and inventory management in the future.