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Cognitively enhanced robot for flexible manufacturing of metal and composite parts

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - COROMA (Cognitively enhanced robot for flexible manufacturing of metal and composite parts)

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-09-30

COROMA (Cognitively Enhanced Robot for Flexible Manufacturing of Metal and Composite Parts) European project has developed a new intelligent, modular and flexible industrial robot concept with the capability to carry out multiple processes in the manufacturing of metal and composite material parts for three sectors as demanding as aeronautics, shipbuilding and energy generation.

COROMA provides the flexibility that European metalworking and advanced material manufacturing companies require to compete in the rapidly evolving global market.

COROMA has a positive impact on employment in the European industry, as:
• companies using this new robot concept require new, different professional profiles.
• European market share willl only increase through innovation efforts in manufacturing technologies.
• the effective collaboration between humans and robots alleviates the most arduous manual tasks entailing repetitive joint and muscular movements. The automation of these operations helps to create highly specialized jobs in European industry, and to avoid the relocation of jobs that would otherwise be manual in countries with a lower hourly rate.

The overall objectives of the project have been:

1. Creation of collaborative robot-machine environments
2. Positive impact for robot manufacturers
3. Boosting the implementation of robotics in component manufacturers

Conclusions of the action:
• COROMA has worked successfully in the implementation of a robotic system with enhanced functionalities applied to specific industrial scenarios, defined by partners belonging to three main sectors: Naval, Aerospace, Energy.
• The implementation carried out in all three use cases has shown good results and remarkable exploitation potential.
• Functional modules have also shown good performance level as stand-alone systems, and also relevance as R&D topics for future actions
• Scientific outcomes of the project in terms of publications and dissemination/communication activities has been numerous and remarkable: scientific papers, presence in scientific forums and events, and on-line didactic material.
Next, partial technical objectives are presented with the description of the functionality integrated in COROMA system:

Objective 1: An autonomous system

The robot uses a life-long learning architecture to learn from previous tasks carried out by itself or by other robots. A vision-based scene-understanding and object-localization system enables the robot to locate the parts to be manufactured and digitalize them. A mobile allowes the robot to move autonomously around the workshop. A three-finger gripper has been tested to let the robot grasp different tools used in manufacturing and inspection processes.

Objective 2: Easily and quickly programmed

An automatic robot path-generation software provides the robot with trajectory adaptation, based on real parts located and digitalised by the system. Manufacturing process analysis module, including process know-how and information from sensors embedded in the robot, is also considered. A programming interface based on pre-programmed function blocks has been tested, as well as the capability to command the robot with hand signals.

Objective 3: Safe interaction with humans and other machines

A multi-camera vision-based safety system detects humans in the working area of the robot, and re-plans the robot's trajectory to avoid collision. A communication architecture between machine tools and robots allows them to collaborate sharing a common working area, even though they're programmed as independent systems.

Objective 4: Aware and reactive to the manufacturing process condition

An automatic vibration analyser provides the robot with reaction capabilities to suppress the vibrations according to its origin. Stiffness values of the robot joints are identified, fed to the vibration analysis algorithm that calculates offline compensations for more precise machining. Robot has been tested as a mobile fixture. Tool wear is estimated and material removal rate kept constant (in sanding and finish-grinding operations). A functional module integrates the robot position and ultrasonic sensor data for non-destructive test inspection.

Objective 5: Capable of performing multiple manufacturing tasks

COROMA system has been able to perform 9 different manufacturing operations, in 3 different applications per end user: 1) Grinding of aircraft metal parts; 2) Grinding of weldings in nuclear fuel containers racks; 3) Sanding of moulds for boat manufacturing; 4) Drilling of metal aircraft T profiles; 5) Deburring of nuclear fuel tubes; 6) Drilling of stacked glass fibre and wood parts; 7) Robot as a mobile fixturing in cooperation with a milling machine; 8) Ultrasonic inspection of metal and composite parts; 9) Trimming of glass-fibre reinforced polymer parts.

Objective 6: Demonstrate and validate the project concept and applied solutions

Complete functionality has been demonstrated in the three scenarios defined by the end-users, belonging to Naval, Aerospace and Energy sectors. Demonstration has shown the integration of the different functional modules into a complete system.
Business cases have been analysed and the first steps towards the configuration of a final commercial offer have been completed. 11 innovations have been defined along the project as potentially exploitable results.
Industrial robots are widely used in repetitive manufacturing operations, but there is a limited flexibility regarding the uses of each robot, as they usually work in units designed to carry out particular tasks in the optimal way.

European manufacturing companies offering new products attempt to react quickly to market changes, facing a series of limitations with industrial robots:

• Time consumed in the installation of the robotic cell for new operations or products.
• Inability to learn, specialised in repeating programmed operations.
• Limited or no mobility.
• Safety requirements: segregated environments, away from human workers.
• Specific process tools, require specific tool changers, adding costs and complexity to the robot.

COROMA modular platform is an innovative development in itself: the project has developed seven modules to improve the performance of already existing robotic systems:

• CORO-OPTIP: this module equips the robot with process awareness to detect, for example, vibrations during drilling that will trigger a reaction, or check tool wear if a sanding operation is being carried out.
• CORO-MOB provides the robot with mobility, so it can move autonomously through the workshop.
• CORO-SAFE offers artificial vision so that the robots can detect the presence of humans and make way.
• CORO-COOP focuses on providing developments for a communication platform so that the robot can interact with other machines and robots.
• CORO-SENSE is a vision module implemented by means of camera systems and laser technology, so that it can understand the environment and find the part on which they must work.
• CORO-PROG minimum programming module allows the robot to respond to operator’s instructions, and to respond to visual instructions in a simple way.
• CORO-HAND allows the robot to pick up tools and provide the system with dexterity.

The COROMA project has applied these developments to three different industrial scenarios: shipbuilding, energy and aeronautics.

The three prototypes have been trialed and validated in complex tests.
Machining operation using a robot
Grinding of metal part in Aerospace application
Robot-Milling Machine synchronisation
Boat mould sanding
Automatic mould sanding sequence in Naval application
Measuring and grinding of metal rack in Energy application
Grinding operation using a robot
Robot on an AGV sanding a boat-mould