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The objective of the ROBOTEX project was the design, development and implementation of the prototypical automated system for the handling and sewing process in the textile and flexible materials user industries. In order to maximise the use of such a machine, it should be designed around a traditional sewing head. The envisaged handling and manipulation systems should be capable of great dexterity required to handle the variety of shapes to be sewn in real time. The prototypical equipment had to be designed with a maximum cost in mind. This cost will reflect the need to produce a low cost, user-friendly, easily maintained sewing automate. The manipulation of the material will be controlled using real time sensor feedback to identify sewing lines, component parts, their position, deformation and relative speed. A range of sensors will be used or developed to detect invisible markers, specially marked on the fabric, that will give necessary feedback. By integrating the sub systems, the research will aim to improve upon the accuracy and efficiency of existing manual techniques. This will reduce operational costs, and a flexible system will be able to adapt to rapidly changing demands due to changing models and production needs. Automated handling in the sewing industry offers the most effective initiative to achieve significant improvement in productivity. About 80% of today's production time in sewing procedures is taken up by the handling procedures, and only 20% in the actual sewing. There is a high technology deficit in this field which clearly demonstrates the need for flexible handling automation. Within the first project year work has been carried out in producing detailed technical specifications for the complete system to be developed and in designing solutions for the sub systems handling, manipulating, sensing, marking and control. In the second project year work has been carried out in detailed design of the various sub systems, their build and test, and demonstrations of fully functional sub system components, as well as laying down the rules and specifications for sub systems integration. Various sub systems of the ROBOTEX system which showed innovative novel solutions were addressed. By the end of the third project year the fully integrated ROBOTEX prototype has been successfully demonstrated showing the machine operating fully automatic machine cycles. After loading fabric stacks onto trolleys, starting the master controller and the local servers for handling, manipulation and sensing, connecting pressure air and 240V power to the machine, the system has been initialised and the complex full machine cycle operated from gripping the single parts to stacking after sewing. The ROBOTEX prototype is an extremely novel and innovative system. The complex structure was hard to realise within the three years duration and the partners have spent great effort and additional resources to finalise the prototype demonstrator.

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