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Enhanced Human Robot cooperation in Cabin Assembly tasks

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - EURECA (Enhanced Human Robot cooperation in Cabin Assembly tasks)

Reporting period: 2017-02-01 to 2018-07-31

EURECA put the worker needs at the centre of the working scene. The increase of the productivity as well as the ergonomics improvement are the main goal of the project. Automation-as-needed is therefore considered as the winning automation strategy for the next aircraft interiors assembly.

The EURECA project framework is dedicated to innovate the assembly of aircraft interiors using advanced human-robot collaborative solutions.

A pool of devices/frameworks will be deployed for teaming up with human operators in a human-centred assistive environment.

The main benefits are the substantial 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.

Solutions are peculiarly designed for addressing both the working conditions and the management of the cabin-cargo installation process, such as limited maneuvering space, limited weight allowed on the cabin floor, reducing lead time and recurring costs.

With this aim, EURECA will bring together research advancements spanning across design, manufacturing and control, robotized hardware, and software for the specific use-cases in the cabin-cargo final assembly.
The work carried out in the first reporting period in EURECA has been focus on:

- development of the ROS simulator in order to validate the installation procedures, logistics and robotic systems proposed within the project: implementation of the simulation environment involving all the robots, hardware (e.g. fuselage, carriers, etc.), sensors, and including 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 the new collaborative robot of the EURECA project: design and validation of the robot kinematics (simulations performed in ROS and in Matlab), design and validation of the robot payload and structure, selection of the required hardware (e.g. sensors, motors, etc.), design of the control (collaborative and autonomous control for the installation of the components), realization of the robot (carbon fiber robot links);

- design of the lightweight robot controller for the installation (autonomous and collaborative) of the sidewall panel (cargo and fuselage). Modification of the software to remotely control the robot using ROS, implementation of new features and improvement of the control performance (control frequency increased). Implementation of the control strategies to collaborate with the human operator. Real demo executed at MECSPE 2018;

- development of the mobile platform control, navigation algorithms and docking algorithms. Implementation of the software in ROS. Development of the navigation and docking algorithms based on tags and 3D features recognition;

- hardware modifications of the mobile platform: reduction of the size (to improve mobility), improved structure, changed drivers to improve the platform control capabilities;

- 3D features recognition algorithms for installation, navigation and grasping tasks: on the basis of defined components/environment features, recognition algorithms have been implemented and tested in order to perform the required tasks;

- realization of the mockup fuselage (1:1 scale) @ CNR facilities: in order to test the developed robots/control strategies, a fuselage has been re-created on the basis of the Fraunhofer IFAM demonstrator;

- communication and dissemination activities: publications (journal, conference, workshop), exhibitions, meetings.
EURECA impact is mainly social, since it is disruptive in the ergonomics of the work for the humans (see Description of Action).
The concept of robots collaborating with human workers in manufacturing assembly lines, dates back to the pioneer work. In fact, this robot type designed for the assembly line worker can reduce ergonomic concerns that arise due to on-the-job physical and cognitive loading, while improving safety, quality and productivity.
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 goal of the Empowering Collaborative Robot spans from augmenting human natural abilities to giving to the disabled the gift of mobility.
Although the Empowering Collaborative Robot is a newly developing technology, it has the potential to change the face of humanity forever. Considering the industrial application of the Human Exoskeleton, it is a ground-breaking invention that could change the quality of work of people, especially for aged worker.

The white paper of the ROBO-MATE project highlights that even in modern and high-tech manufacturing industry, many necessary operations in industrial manufacturing processes are difficult to automate and indicates that 64% of highly skilled manual workers perform lifting and carry loads for at least a quarter of their normal work time. Such activities expose workers to risk factors that increase the likelihood of injury, particularly the development of musculoskeletal disorders (that remains the most common occupational disease in the European Union), and workers in all sectors and occupations can be affected.
Besides the lifting of heavy objects, musculoskeletal disorders are also connected to repetitive tasks such tightening of bolts/screws, riveting and many other operations where the dexterity of the human could be easily re-placed by the robots. Furthermore, such tasks, may alienate the humans when such simple operations are repeated hundreds of time per day. Autonomous Mobile Robot Arms, therefore, are useful to improve not only the physical ergonomics, but also the cognitive ergonomics. Therefore, autonomous robotic arms allow the human to perform just the tasks where his/her skills guarantee added value.
Remarkably, the increasing prevalence of the disorders has a significant impact on both short and long-term sickness absences. About 44 million EU workers are affected by musculoskeletal disorders at a total annual cost in excess of €240 billion to the European economy.
collaborative robot developed in EURECA
Human-robot sidewall panel installation application @ MECSPE 2018
collaborative robot developed in EURECA
ROS simulator for installation procedures validation