Improving the interaction between people and collaborative robots in factories

ClaXon (ClaXon) is a research project (imec.icon). Funded by imec, IWT and Innoviris, it ran from 31.12.2014 until 30.12.2016.

Project information

  • Project Lead: Ilse Ravyse
  • Research Lead: An Jacobs
  • Partner: Robovision
  • Partner: Melexis Technologies
  • Partner: AMS
  • Partner: Audi Brussels
  • Partner: Robotics and MultiBody Mechanics Research Group
  • Partner: imec - EDM-IT - UHasselt
  • Partner: imec - SMIT - VUB
  • Partner: SoftKinetic


For safety reasons, robots in a manufacturing environment are typically shielded from humans. However, humans and robots have very complementary skills. Combining the dexterity, flexibility and problem-solving ability of humans with the strength, endurance and precision of robots, the quality of industrial production can be improved – as well as people’s working conditions.

Yet, introducing so-called ‘cobots’ (collaborative robots) to flexibly assist human personnel in a range of tasks faces several technological and acceptance hurdles.

“We explored how uncaged cobots can more effectively be used in factories,” explains An Jacobs (imec - VUB). “One challenge we looked into, was how to make cobots sufficiently robust for use in manufacturing settings – leveraging for instance multimodal sensor input and vision technology to enhance human-machine interaction in noisy environments. Secondly, we investigated the human side of the equation: how do machine operators want to interact with robots? And how do they expect robots to help them with their daily operations?”

Project outcomes

  • New adaptive control software that increases flexible robots’ accuracy by 60%
  • Novel ways to tell a robot what it needs to do – using multimodal sensor input, and based on extensive living lab user research
  • Putting the ClaXon learnings into practice at Audi Brussels


Read more

ClaXon leaflet

ClaXon video