This project is all about improving the efficiency of small batch, rapid manufacturing by using human robot collaboration. The AI based planning algorithm plans the process and distributes tasks to the human and the robot. At the same time, the system also takes care of safety by avoiding accidents using its sensors and smart planning algorithms.
Vision sensors and projectors are used to plan the activity between the human and manipulator arms for accomplishing the task.
semi-automated work space / table equipped with movable bars will
compartmentalize the work space.
With the simple design input like CAD model of the job to be manufactured, the software does the planning and distributes the tasks between the user and the robot.
Our mission is to revolutionize the small batch manufacturing in the industry and bring this technology to the consumer
Manufacturing is defined as the production of goods for use or sale using labor and machines, tools, chemical or biological processes or formulation. In its earliest forms, manufacturing was carried out by a skilled artisan and his assistants. The wave of industrialization saw the development of new techniques for large scale manufacturing and we find ourselves now in the era of automation which makes possible cheap, efficient, large scale manufacturing of products. Figure 1-1 shows such an autonomous assembly line. Automated manufacturing typically requires large resources in terms of cost and time to set up the assembly lines. Modification of these assembly lines to suit new product line is also costly and time consuming. Hence automated manufacturing is only used for repetitive large batch manufacturing where the high costs of setup are overcome by larger sales.
Figure 1-1 Automated Manufacturing using ABB Robot Arm Manipulator. Courtesy Internet
Though automation has largely aided large scale manufacturing, it places the restriction on production of customized products. Such products are today manufactured by skilled workers which lead to higher costs for the service and also longer time for the production. Working with heavy machinery makes it imperative to consider the safety of the workers. Figure 1-2 shows such a task undertaken by a human. Today the robotics industry is exploring a new market of developing robots that can collaborate with humans to accomplish certain tasks.
Figure 1-2 Human carrying out the task of welding
Such human robot collaboration for small batch manufacturing has several advantages. It greatly reduces the time and cost that is required for the manufacturing that is done by skilled workers. It also does not need a lot of setup time and hence allows for a fast design to production cycle. It allows the manufacturer to produce customized products specified according to the user needs of the customer. Figure 1-3 shows the Baxter robot that is developed for manufacturing and the PR2 that is developed for human robot interaction.
Figure 1-3 Baxter2 Robot
The development of such robots however is not enough for human robot collaborative manufacturing. There are some tasks that the robot can do better than the human, like repetitive tasks and some that the human can do better than the robot, like tasks involving precise handling. In this project we look at human robot collaborative manufacturing not as the development of a robot that can do precise tasks, but a system that allows a human with minimum skills to work effortlessly, efficiently and safely in collaboration of a robot for manufacturing. We identify here the user needs that highlight the features that overcome the limitations of existing systems and allow for the human robot collaborative manufacturing system.
1. Used for small batch manufacturing: The system should first understand the tasks required for the process and then distribute the tasks between the system and the human. The human can then follow the instructions provided by the system and collaborate with the system to manufacture customized products in small numbers.
2. Low Cost: The cost involved in reconfiguring the system for new products should be minimal. The cost should reflect a good tradeoff between the quantity of the goods produced and the cost of production.
3. Fast: This system should combine the precision of the human and the repeatability of the robotic arm to make small batch manufacturing faster and efficient.
4. Safe: System reduces the risk involved in operating heavy machinery using sensor data and analyzing the position of the human and the robotic arm.
5. Easy to use: The system can be used easily by anyone with no expertize in manufacturing processes.
6. Scalable: The system should be able to handle multiple human and/or robotic arms for manufacturing.
7. Compatibility: The system should be platform independent.