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TWI Hellas: Building an Artificial Intelligence (AI) Future

Tue, 14 December, 2021

TWI Hellas specialises in applying artificial intelligence (AI)-based, machine learning algorithms to derive efficiencies from large volume data, and optimise the quality of prediction regarding anomalies, failures and other unexpected issues – in keeping with its aim to build an AI future for the world – by developing AI applications for industries ranging from healthcare through to agriculture and circular manufacturing.

The Athens-based TWI Hellas team has been integrating robotic technologies into multiple areas since its inception in 2018 with the application of advanced, adaptable and autonomous robotics such as drones, mobile robots and manipulators. Under the guidance of expert technical staff, the robots can start to perform tasks with minimum human supervision, and the higher the level of machine learning that is achieved via human-machine interaction, the better the chances of the robot's performance progressively improving.

Robotics activities are channelled into a number of EU-funded projects which, between them, have various objectives related to upgrading working processes and production capacity, and increasing the financial viability of SMEs in multiple industries.

The Horizon 2020 project ODIN, begun in March 2021, focuses on leveraging advanced technologies, including AI, internet of things (IoT) and robotics, to transform the future of healthcare delivery across Europe and bring to life "smart hospitals". Within the project, TWI Hellas is responsible for: robot coordination and infrastructure, iterated integration of new features and preliminary validation; fleet management; and development opportunities such as establishing platform privacy, security and trust mechanisms. On project completion, ODIN will use various forms of AI to empower healthcare workers, and enhance medical operations across different locations including simplifying logistics and facilitating smoother interaction.

The first collaborative project that TWI Hellas participated in was SOCKET SENSE, started in 2019. This ongoing initiative addresses the development of a lower-limb prosthetic with a sensor-based socket system, customisable to the patient’s needs, that allows for scalable manufacturing. TWI Hellas’ work revolves around the design and implementation of an AI-based optimisation toolkit for socket design, and overall system integration, all of which requires the application of advanced data analytics and AI algorithms to reinforce data analysis accuracy.

Another AI-oriented project is SOFTGRIP which intends to construct soft robotic grippers that harvest mushrooms and soft fruit autonomously. In mushroom farming, the picking process is tough and time-consuming, requiring skilled harvesters to successfully complete the task. Thus, SOFTGRIP’s robotic automations leverage AI and machine vision to relieve farmers of potential labour shortages and attendant high production costs, as well as improve work quality in the industry. The robots will be taught to pick mushrooms through an imitation learning framework with the learned principles being easily deployed to various soft grippers. TWI Hellas is working on machine vision tasks, including the grippers' mushroom detecting and identification capabilities. The team is also responsible for estimating how the soft grippers position and orientate themselves, and for deploying the software integration in a robot operating system (ROS).

Last but not least, the KYKLOS 4.0 project sets out to be exemplar in AI development, with the objective of providing industry with an end-to-end solution that is superior to traditional manufacturing practices, reduces environmental impact and delivers reusable solutions. Circular manufacturing is based on utilising AI, augmented reality, cyber-physical systems, additive manufacturing and more to boost efficiency, increase system decision autonomy, and automate configurations, methodologies and production techniques. In this revolutionary project, TWI Hellas is responsible for designing and implementing the rapid prototyping module to support the adoption of additive manufacturing as a production process, and the online 3D component configurator to drive personalised designs within the KYKLOS 4.0 system.

Panos Chatzakos, Regional Manager for TWI Hellas, said “Here in Athens, by working closely with different partners from prestigious universities, organisations and SMEs, we continue to seek to break traditional barriers and replace them with innovative, user-friendly technological solutions.” “And in this way, the collaborative spirit that is rooted in industry continues to deliver creative answers to important questions that are raised collectively across the industrial ecosystem.”

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