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Collaborative Robotics for Assembly and Kitting in Smart Manufacturing

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - ColRobot (Collaborative Robotics for Assembly and Kitting in Smart Manufacturing)

Reporting period: 2017-08-01 to 2019-01-31

Europe’s manufacturing sector is facing a number of challenges.To be competitive, and survive in global market, manufacturing companies need to be more efficient. Manufacturing competitiveness means keeping the existing companies in Europe and bringing back manufacturing companies to Europe. The final result for the citizen is reflected in jobs creation, economic growth and better living standards.
Robot technology, due to their capabilities, is a key element to address such challenges and improve manufacturing competitiveness. Traditional robots have the capacity to perform repetitive work, be (re)programmable and highly accurate. However, the problem is that it is still difficult to interact, (re)configure and integrate robots in manufacturing cells, especially mobile manipulators. In addition, traditional robots have limited autonomy and cognition abilities to perceive and adapt to unstructured industrial environments. They work inside fences and the interaction and collaboration with human workers is very limited or inexistent. All these factors contribute to decisively limit the flexibility of robots and their penetration in companies. The consequence is that many manufacturing companies, especially SMEs, do not have robots on their shop floor because they do not have workers to operate such robotic systems. This is critical as more than 99% of all European business are SMEs, providing 2 out of 3 of the private sector jobs and are the primarily responsible for wealth and economic growth. Moreover, robot technology is fundamental to ensure the Europe’s work force for the growth of the industry and to attenuate the effect of an ageing workforce.
Mobile collaborative robotics manipulator which is a part the Industry 4.0 initiative bring an answer to theses challenges. In this context, as an Innovative Action, the overall aim of the ColRobot project is to develop a collaborative mobile robotic manipulator for industrial assembly and assistance in kitting in automotive and aerospace industries. A “third hand” capable of delivering kits, tools, parts, and holding work pieces for the operator.
ColRobot focuses on four objectives:
1.To address the Human/Robot Collaboration challenging issues from the need of the shop-floor flexibility and agility
2.To develop key technologies for collaborative mobile robotic manipulator
3.To validate them to a high level of TRL through two use cases one for automotive and one for aerospace
4.To address some safety industrial software and hardware robotic issues
Another important parallel objective is the education of the manufacturing engineering and research community of ColRobot results to improve and harmonise knowledge about mobile collaborative robotic manipulator for industry and thereby ensure a high impact of project results.
The knowledge and industrial technologies generated in ColRobot will contribute to improve EU manufacturing policy, to increase the leadership of the EU in safety mobile robotic manipulator and to contribute more generally to improve the safety issues in Human Robot Collaboration. Moreover, ColRobot will prove that robots can interact and collaborate with human workers in an industrial environment, performing repetitive work and freeing the operators from ergonomically inconvenient work. Such context will conduct to job opportunities for an ever-ageing population (with reduced cognitive abilities), as well as for people with learning disabilities and no language skills.
The project Kick-Off meeting took place in February 2016 at ENSAM, gathering all the partners. Common working procedures, management methods and tools have been established and implemented in order to facilitate the collaboration among the partners. Three plenary meetings were organized at partners locations. These plenary meetings were the occasion to monitor the project progress and to take strategic decisions with all the partners. Two technical review meetings were organized at so as to detail the two use cases to the members. An Innovation Board was created to help in scientific orientation for the project.
In short words, the work performed until now is:
- complete definition of the requirements of the use cases,
- integration formularies for software and hardware integration,
- definition of risks for the robotic process according to the use cases,
- setup of sensors for HRI/C and interaction architecture,
- design of EMG sensor,
- workshop on interaction technologies
- simulation of mobile robot going inside a van for the RNLT use case,
- first tests of the alpha use case for TAS with the KMR iiwa robot at ENSAM Laboratory,
- preparation of dissemination material such as, website, flyers, poster and project video.
Moreover, during this first period, the ColRobot partners developed 13 foreseeable Key Exploitable Results (KERs).
At this stage, the progress beyond the state of the art can be evaluated by the articles accepted in per review conference and journals. This mainly concerns some scientific and technological skills developed in Work Packages 2, 3 and 4 of the project.
The ColRobot full impact is planned to be reached in the end of the project. However, after the initial 18 months of activity significant impact is foreseen. The ColRobot impact is visible and measured from different perspectives, namely:
Impact 1: The consortium companies (in particular SMEs) are creating in the context of the project new products, making them more competitive in the global market. For example, the development of the new EMG sensor from TECHNAID and the flexible gripper from AKEO. In addition, the other companies in the project is enriching their manufacturing skills and decision-making abilities concerning the application of collaborative robots in the shop floor.
Impact 2: The new products and services being developed in ColRobot will increase Europe's market share in industrial robotics. This is visible in the increasing needs for collaborative robots and the interest of companies in the ColRobot project.
Impact 3: The current evolution of the existing systems and the pre-prototypes demonstrate that the Technology Readiness Levels we expected for ColRobot will be achieved.
Impact 4: Since the beginning, ColRobot is based in a strong relationship between industry and academia, driven by the industry needs. This collaboration is constant in the project, with products and technologies being developed in strict collaboration. In this example the EMG sensor developed with collaboration between Technaid and University of Coimbra, the flexible gripper with the collaboration of AKEO, Thales and ENSAM, the mobile manipulator with the collaboration of INESC, AIMEN and Renault, and the safety system with the collaboration of IFF, CITC and UNIMORE.
Impact 5: The technology being developed can be applied in different domains. However, at this stage in the project the focus is on the use cases in automotive and spacecraft industry.
Impact 6: Impact in the society by communicating through dissemination activities (video, talks, conferences) what collaborative robots do. These activities help to make people aware of what collaborative robots do, and will do in the future. Some activities carried out in ColRobot help people to understand that robots will not replace humans in all the jobs, they will collaborate with humans in some tasks in a more efficient way.
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