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Together with Ahold-Delhaize (Albert Heijn), TU Delft is developing a supermarket robot. The initial task of the robot is to do order picking for online customers in a live store. Rather than collecting the order in a warehouse, the robot will collect the order in one of the stores amongst normal shopping customers.

While the research team develops the autonomous behavior of the robot, such as self-localization and motion planning for the arm to pick the items, you will focus on the design of the interfaces for natural interaction with the robot. This consists of two types of interaction.

  1. Shopping customers share the space with the robot, and occasionally need to reach for the same products. How would you design such occasional interactions? Will the robot use audio signals? A screen? Communicate by the way it moves?
  2. Employees will need to turn on the robot, occasionally teach it a new map (if the store layout changes), tell the robot to go recharge, and understand potential error codes. How would you design the interaction between the employees and the robot?


Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, will be to envision and realize these two user experiences. To do so, you will have to create a polished and thought-provoking prototype, probably with some hardware elements but with the focus on the software. You will be part of the team of researchers and be able to draw on their extensive software experience.

We are looking for someone who loves to design and program beautiful and effective prototypes. Someone who is open for experiments, has outstanding coding skills, while maintaining an awareness of the functional requirements. Is this you? Interested? Want to know more? Get in touch!

Embedding of the assignment

In this work, we are fortunate enough to have partnered up with the “Artificial Intelligence for Retail lab” (AIRlab) Delft. They are located in RoboHouse, Julianalaan 67 in Delft, and there is lab/office space available for you to become embedded in the project team. The team has several robot platforms available (mobile base with arm) and create generic software that can run on any of those. During the project, one specific robot will be selected for the final demonstration, and you will focus on designing the interfaces for that robot. This combination of a research location and an accessible robot enables a fascinating hands-on experience with both the technical and the human aspects of social robotics.

Jered Vroon