Monday, October 10, 2005

Jaume: The Robot "Librarian"

Jaume is the name for a "librarian" robot is being developed by the Robotic Intelligence Lab of Universitat Jaume I (UJI) in Castellón (Spain) by a research group managed by Prof. Angel P. del Pobil.

According to the project web site, the goal for Jaume is to search and retrieve a book requested by a customer. The operation starts when the user requests a book by its name or code, either through Internet or by voice. The robot is then in charge of locating the book in an ordinary library, extract it and take it to the user. The only initial information is the book code, written on a label which is read by the vision system. This general application integrates several inter-disciplinary skills like path planning, visual perception or multisensory-based grasping, all linked together by reasoning capabilities.

The robot consists of several systems including a camera that helps with the naviagation and book recognition systems. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) systems are used to read the labels in order identify the materials. A mechanical arm is then uyse to extract the book from the shelf.

Automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) are not new. The systems were first introduced in the early 1960s and since there have been thosands of different types developed. The Prior Health Sciences Library and The Ohio State Univeristy where I work actually was home to one of Sperry Rand Corpration's five "Randreivers." It was a mechanical book storage system that required looking up a call number, giving it to a reference clerk who, in turn, matched it with an accession number (an undifferentiated string of 10 or 12 numeric characters), which, in turn, was entered via keyboard to retrieve the desired object.

By 1989 all American systems of them were out of service as the result of problems with suppliers (rand abandon the system), unanticipated maintenance costs, crude equipment and primitive computer control, and ignorance of customer requirements.

Among the deficiencies of this system was the need for people
to enter such numbers without error. Something like 30% of the failures
to retrieve had simply to do with this human-hostile resource identifier
being mistyped. The use of scanners alone would have reduced this number of errors, but scanner technology took off after the systems went offline primarly due to mechanical issues.

The question is if which research projects like Jaume will turn into practical library technologies and which ones will land up as the next Randtrievers.

For More Information

John Kountz, "Automated Storage and Retrival (AS/R) Systems of the Past: Why Did They Fail?" Library Hi Tech 31, no. 3 (1990): 87.

Barbara VanBrimmer, Elizabeth Sawyers, and Eric Jayjohn, "The Randtriever: Its Use at the Ohio State University," Library Hi Tech 8, no.3 (1990): 71.

Loo, Jeffery. ASRS
(Automated Storage and Retrieval Systems)in Academic Libraries
2001.

Prats M., Ramos-Garijo R., Sanz P.J., del Pobil A.P. Autonomous Localization and Extraction of Books in a Library. Intelligent Autonomous Systems, edited by F. Groen et al., Amsterdam: IOS Press, 2004.(pp. 1138-1145)

Prats M., Ramos-Garijo R., Sanz PJ, Del Pobil A. P. Recent Progress in the UJI Librarian Robot. In Proc. of IEEE International Conference on Systems, Man & Cybernetics, 2004. Sphere: Related Content

1 comment:

Michael said...

If a robot tried to retrieve books from my library, it would blow a fuse from frustration.