Pro²Future at the LNF 2024

At the “Lange Nacht der Forschung”, Pro²Future looked at flexible collaboration between humans and robots in Industry 4.0 (Cobot stand), as well as the interaction between AI and industrial occupational safety (AI2Human stand). In Upper Austria, the LNF counted around 42,000 visitors in 10 regions with 140 exhibitors and over 700 research stations.

Cobot stand: In order to achieve collaboration or flexible collaboration between humans and robots in Industry 4.0, real-time communication and robots that adapt to the way people work and complete tasks without having to rely on rigid processes are needed.

In our CobotInsight project, we implemented exactly that using image recognition: people communicate using hand signals and robots carry out a task depending on the signal, in our case finding and picking up a specific object. Finally, the human’s hand is discovered, and the object found is placed in the hand.

In a simplified version, visitors to the Long Night of Research were able to test our flexible routine. A robot looked for chocolate of a certain color and placed it in the human’s hand. The desired color was communicated by the hand signal. After the chocolate was in our hands, we saw many excited faces and not only the children smiled. In addition, the small example was a good starting point for visitors to talk to us about collaborative robots and flexible working methods in industry, because as we found, there was great interest in the topic.

AI2Human stand: As part of this project, we joined forces with the AUVA General Accident Insurance Institute to research how AI can be used safely for occupational safety, because while AI has the potential to protect people, it must be ensured that people are just as safe from the risks of AI. Numerous children and adults interested in research took the opportunity to experiment with our prototypes and gain an insight into how AI can secure dangerous areas using person recognition, how air quality is intelligently checked using sensors and how it happens that an algorithm for recognizing protective equipment can sometimes be wrong.

Our stand was visited almost continuously, and we were therefore immersed in countless dialogues. The visitors’ reactions were consistently positive and open-minded, which indicates that awareness of the importance of AI is growing.

Article: Verena Szojak; Jaroslava Huber, MSc; DI Dr. Markus Jäger, MLBT
Photos:, Ouijdane Guiza, Markus Jäger, Alois Ferscha