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Enhanced Human Robot cooperation in Cabin Assembly tasks

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - EURECA (Enhanced Human Robot cooperation in Cabin Assembly tasks)

Reporting period: 2018-08-01 to 2020-01-31

The EURECA project is dedicated to innovating the assembly of aircraft interiors putting the worker needs at the centre of the working scene and deploying the automation as-needed paradigm it is possible to increase of the productivity as well as the ergonomics.
A pool of devices/frameworks has been therefore deployed for teaming up with human operators in a human-centred assistive environment, and the design has been focused on the improvement of ergonomics in workloads, the increase in the usability level of assembly actions, the digitalization of procedures with logs and visuals for error prevention through dedicated devices. EURECA, furthermore, exploits only insight-information coming from sensors mounted on the robotic system, without any external sensorial system. Therefore, proprioception of the robotic system is given by 3D cameras and 2D cameras, plus the usage of force/torque sensors to guarantee the possibility to adapt the robot behaviours to the variabilities of the tasks.
Solutions have been designed for addressing both the working conditions and the management of the cabin-cargo installation process, such as limited manoeuvring space, limited weight allowed on the cabin floor, reducing lead time and recurring costs. EURECA brought together research advancements spanning across design, manufacturing and control, robotized hardware, and software for the specific use-cases in the cabin-cargo final assembly.
Specifically, three prototypes have developed in EURECA:
- the first prototype has been designed to achieve a step-change in the logistics performance, and an innovative AGV with mechanisms to reduce the pressure on the floor and outstanding localization performance without any external reference;
- the second prototype is a cutting-edge robotic system that integrates all the most advanced technologies for the manipulation and assembly of lightweight but bulky objects like panels, where the accuracy in the assembly needs the fusion of vision and forces information;
- the third prototype is an innovative empowering robot tailored on the task specifications, for a step-change in the mobile manipulation of heavy and very large objects like.
EURECA technologies have demonstrated that the collaboration between humans and robots allows addressing the most important challenges in the assembly of bulky objects in completely unstructured environments.
The work carried out in EURECA focused on the design and realization of three innovative prototypes for logistics, assembly of lightweight parts (<14kg) and heavy and bulky objects (>20kg) that allow the cooperation between robots and human operators.
These three platforms exploited a large number of SW and HW modules, each of which has been designed and developed trying to go beyond the state of the art and of the technology. Among the others, the list of EURECA outcomes includes:
- development of innovative docking strategies, exploiting insight AGV information and sensor fusion, for high accuracy localization inside the unstructured environment
- innovative transportation of robots, with an advanced mechanism to redistribute the pressure of high loads over the floor
- innovative control algorithms exploiting the fusion of forces information and 3D point clouds in order to allow the assembly of items with the precision of a few millimetres when handling elements longer than one meter and without any external localization system
- A ROS simulator that validates the installation procedures, logistics and robotic systems proposed. The simulation environment includes all the robots, hardware (e.g. fuselage, carriers, etc.), sensors, and the software required (e.g. motion planner, features recognition algorithms, etc.) to perform the installation, navigation, motion tasks;
- Design and Development (both hardware and software) of an innovative under-actuated empowering robot for the assembly of bulky objects in the collaborative scenario;
All the outcomes have received awards (MECSP2018 and KUKA Awards 2018) and they have been communicated and disseminated through the most important international conferences and fairs, and through proper workshops finalized to create awareness on the challenges related to the assembly of the aircraft.
EURECA impact is mainly social since it is disruptive in the ergonomics of the work for the humans. From the manufacturer viewpoint, two aspects are particularly noteworthy: (1) since the operator load is reduced as previously illustrated, the proposed assembly operation can be reclassified in the manufacturer ergonomics scale; (2) a complete risk analysis by the manufacturer indicates that the proposed setup is compatible with the safety standards, and could be certified.
The Key Exploitable Results developed by EURECA results in:
- A new paradigm for the design and realization of empowering collaborative robot: The exploitation of such results may require the creation of such a joint-venture with a branded manufacturer, or the creation of a new manufacturer, able to sell the robot in many applications where its own design may be useful. Some example of application outside the assembly of the interiors of aircraft is: Assembly of trains; Assembly of constructions; Assembly of trucks
- A new large library of innovative SW packages usable from a large number of Robot System Integrators. The FOSS business model has been selected and used. EURECA will benefit from FOSS business models properly balanced with IPR management. Specifically, EURECA is leveraging the ROS community (www.ros.org) in order to maximize the exploitation of the results and the impact. Worthily, the Consortium agrees that almost all the SW results are redistributed based on BSD/Apache 2.0 licensing as open-source packages inside the ROS distribution channel. Being part of the wide FOSS and ROS community will: Spread of EURECA knowledge, and boost a community of EURECA users almost in Academia.
- A new approach to the design of mobile robotic systems (AGV + lightweight robot arm) for assembly: The setup of joint-venture with advanced system integrators (as IT+R) may be the key factor to allow great exploitation of the results. As a difference from the SW, the protection of the system through proper IPR mechanisms will be necessary to prevent the erosion of the valuable market. The winning exploitation strategy will consist of having a proper distributor function able to satisfy the market needs at the correct time