Each of the four demonstrators shows the use of cognitive functionalities, such as intuitive setup, self-/workspace monitoring, planning, automated anomaly handling and learning, in a specific industrial use case. Developed in close cooperation with four selected small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that have become members of the SMErobotics consortium, the demonstrators serve to direct research and development in robotic technology towards the needs of SMEs. The goal of the SMErobotics initiative is to keep manufacturing jobs in Europe. It is therefore important to strengthen the competitiveness of manufacturing SMEs by enabling them to use advanced robotic automation solutions that combine an SME’s strengths in flexible, customer-driven production with the efficiency and robustness of robotic systems beyond currently available flexible manufacturing. “Adaptive robots that can be flexibly used for a variety of different tasks without high follow-up costs will pay for themselves through lower overall costs while at the same time taking SME automation a step forward,” says Martin Hägele, project coordinator of SMErobotics. With its new showroom website at http://videos.smerobotics.org the initiative raises the awareness of system integrators, SME decision-makers and the general public concerning advanced solutions for SME-compatible robots that assist in handling workspace uncertainties through the use of collaborative human-robot interaction and embedded cognition. Featuring four industry-specific demonstration videos and the project’s mission video (released at AUTOMATICA), the site provides fast access to key innovations in SME-compatible robotics. While the mission video presents a technology overview and a vision of what will become a reality over the next two to five years, the demonstrator videos focus on specific functionalities currently on their way from the lab to the shop floor. • The first video demonstrates precision assembly with a dual-arm industrial manipulator using vision-based component detection, force/torque-based mounting and intuitive human-robot interaction in a fenceless workspace. • The second video shows the handling of panels and their machining into wooden-framed house walls, with automated program generation from CAD data, intelligent adaption to variable material properties and robust fault detection and recovery. • The third video presents a small flexible manipulator suitable for attachment to and work at a manual work station. The scenario shows the riveting of various aluminum profile sections based on CAD data including capabilities for smart error recovery. • The fourth video shows an advanced welding solution with automatic seam ordering and built-in quality control. What is SMErobotics? SMErobotics is the European Robotics Initiative for strengthening the competitiveness of SMEs in manufacturing. It aims to turn the vision of cognitive robotics into a reality in a key segment of EU manufacturing industry. It is supported by the EU’s Seventh Framework Program (FP7). The project’s purpose is to foster the research and development of cognitive robot systems for small and medium-sized manufacturing companies in Europe. SMEs are known for having a high variability of products and lot sizes in the production, which entails the need for flexible solutions that support rapid adaptations to new product variants and production processes without having to call in a specialist. This requires new software components for improved communication, understanding and collaboration between humans and robots. Also, robots need to become capable of taking more decisions on their own, with a reliability that gives an SME the confidence that the robot can perform tasks on time and to the standard expected from a human worker. The human worker will then be free to focus on the more challenging jobs in production, which robots cannot yet handle or perhaps never will.
Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Sweden