ESR12. Cooperative and multimodal localization in 5G-enabled multi-robot systems

Main supervisor profile and contact: Dr. Micael Couceiro <>

Institution: Ingeniarius

Description of the job: The ESR will be hosted by Ingeniarius, Lda. with a degree awarded by University of Coimbra (Portugal) and a 7-month secondment at I2CAT (Spain). The ESR will play a key role in contributing to the 5GSmartFact objectives, emphasizing on mobile robot 5G-enabled localization systems to support industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) applications. The ESR will be actively engaged in the activities of Ingeniarius, collaborating in the R&D of mobile robotics solutions, namely for field applications within the domains of Forestry 4.0, Agriculture 4.0 and others. This engagement encompasses a strong participation in ongoing R&D projects, such as SEMFIRE, SAFEFOREST and RAIL-O-BOT, as well as other related activities, where the ESR will develop and evaluate localization architectures based on multimodal sensor fusion, encompassing 5G technology and other odometry sources. Attending top international conferences and other network-based activities is also expected as part of the programme.

Mission: At the outset of the doctoral study, the ESR will play a key role in contributing to the 5GSmartFact objectives, emphasizing on mobile robot 5G-enabled localization systems to support industrial Internet-of-Things (IIoT) applications. Absolute localization of mobile robots without knowledge of an environment map, typical in many I4.0 domains, rely on technologies such as global navigation satellite system (GNSS), whose accuracy and precision fall short for many robotic tasks, and has limited applicability indoors. Some recent works addressed the localization accuracy of 5G networks found to be at the cm-level. Adding this to other prospects in 5G networks, such as increased bandwidth, or device-to-device communication, paves the way towards the development and deployment of 5G-enabled field robots’ localization. Currently, there exists a plethora of different use case-specific technologies for positioning, e.g., based on ultra-sound, cameras, laser, LiDAR, ultra-wideband or Bluetooth, which are complex to manage and costly to deploy altogether. Also, legacy technologies, such as RFID, though quite cost-efficient, are too rigid and inflexible. What is missing to date is a highly flexible and powerful positioning solution that is suitable for a wide range of different use cases and requirements and that is ideally integrated into the already deployed connectivity infrastructure, thus avoiding the need to set up and operate parallel multiple networks, infrastructures, or technologies.

The ESR will address the following challenges for positioning in the IIoT space: a) Development of hybrid positioning techniques for mobile robots based on 5G communications. b) Rich fusion of different sources of positioning information (ultrawideband, inertial data, visual odometry, visible light communications, etc.) and context information for a diversity of use cases and applications, and implementation in a robot system.

Main functions: To tackle the aforementioned challenges, the objectives for this doctoral study are as follows: 1) Analysis of user needs and requirements for the design of 5G-connected heterogeneous robotic platforms, based on 5G connectivity for pervasive localization, emphasizing triangulation optimization methods, as well as cooperative and multimodal-based localization. 2) Implementation of a Robot OS (ROS)-based solution for 5G localization in robotics. 3) Development of an advanced life-long localization architecture based on multimodal sensor fusion, encompassing 5G technology, possibly coupled with local ultrawide-band positioning, VLC, global positioning system (GPS), inertial measurement units (IMU), wheel encoders, scan matching and visual odometry. 4) Performance evaluation approach to assess the accuracy and precision of the 5G-based localization multi-robot system under real-world constraints.

With these objectives in mind, the ESR is expected to achieve the following results: 1) A study of the technological and scientific viability of an innovative 5G-based localization system for mobile robots. 2) Incremental prototype of the proposed localization system in ROS starting with one robot and a few sensor modalities, all the way up to a dynamic multi-robot team with several sensor modalities. 3) Working proof-of-concept demonstration with a team of forestry robots in a challenging outdoor field environment. 4) Exploitation of possible business opportunities and patent filing.

Secondments: You will spend a 7 months secondment at I2CAT as part of the trainig programme, under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Camps.

Doctoral programme: The ESR will be enroled in the Universidade de Coimbra doctoral programme under the joint supervision of Dr. Micael Couceiro (Ingeniarius) and of Dr. David Portugal (Department of Electrical Engineering at Universidade de Coimbra).

Requirements of the candidate

  • Education level: Master in Computer Science, Electronics Engineering, Computer Engineering or equivalent.

  • Degree/speciality: Robotics.

  • Language skills: Oral, reading and writing proficiency in English.

  • Research experience: R&D background on multi-sensor fusion and/or mobile robotics will be valued.

  • Other skills: High proficiency on C++/Python programming is required, with preference given to candidates with experience working with the Robot Operating System (ROS) ecosystem.

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