Daniele, a front-end developer at Stanley Robotics, took some time to explain what his work at Stanley Robotics consists of. According to him, modern HMIs must provide more than process visualisation. They must connect teams, applications, and machines for greater collaboration, efficiency, and economy.
First, it is important to define and unpack the term “HMI”. In an industrial context, HMIs might be used for several reasons. They can be used to display data visually, or to track production times or trends. They can also be used to monitor performance indicators or to monitor inputs and outputs from machines. These are just a few examples, but HMIs can have many other use cases.
There are two types of HMI at Stanley Robotics
We work primarily on terminals that are intended for the end user of the service. This allows them to drop off and recover their vehicles. We are also working on interfaces for operations and technical teams.
These interfaces evolve with the needs of their users, whether they are our customers using our services or our in-house teams. This makes them living interfaces that adapt as needed.
The approach differs depending on the type of human-machine interface we are working on. In fact, there is less time to step back and think for HMIs intended for use by operations and the technical teams. Delivering new features requires reactivity and adaptability to allow them to advance effectively. Despite this, the manner of thinking and the process of development remain the same.
One of the big projects we did at the beginning of the year was to provide an HMI allowing our teams to retrieve, display and modify as much information as possible on the parking database and the robot fleet. This HMI, which we named ATHENA, basically works as a container into which we plug different tools.
My work on an interface usually starts with a need arising from the user experience, operations or technical teams. Then follows a period of reflection, UX analysis, and then a feasibility study that includes different parameters such as the time required for development.
Based on the results of the UX analysis, we create a visually coherent solution with the logical elements required – these elements are created with their future re-use in mind. Sometimes I note inconsistencies with the first models. When this happens, we sit around a table and look for a solution together and decide what would be most suitable
In Athena there are several types of tools:
Booking scheduling: This is a calendar that very effectively displays what will happen over the course of the day: there are three or four indicators every day that tells us the cars coming in, the cars coming out, the cars that will be staying put and also if we will see a spike in the number of vehicles stored in the day. This tool allows the operations team to plan for the days ahead and so facilitate the work of on-site operators who can organise their days accordingly, particularly if the technical teams will be running tests in parallel.
Parking table: This feature allows us to list vehicles that have entered the car park and have been dropped off but also to list the actions that have been or will be performed.
Booking: This is a raw list of all the bookings we have had since we opened to the public. This allows us to search for accurate information if we have the reservation number of the customer. We can check and see what time they were due to arrive and leave. It also allows us to confirm whether a customer is telling us the truth when they say: “I only have my number, not my QR code.”
HMI are crucial for operational management
Terence, project manager at Lyon airport :
“These interfaces are very important for current operations. Before we became a reception desk for customers there was no need. When we started to receive customers, it quickly became apparent that a visual interface that allows us to manage the arrival of customers and general operations was needed. This facilitates everyday administration but also lets us anticipate the arrival of the next vehicle and customer, and also provides an overview of what happened previously – to know if a certain vehicle parked in a particular box, for example.
These tools really help people on the ground. I’d even go so far as to say that without them I don’t think we could operate at all. The solution was put together very quickly, and these interfaces will continue to evolve. Moreover, I find that they adapt very well to industrial progress that we have been seeing for a while now.”
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