The Productive Robot Apprentice

Driven by the trend to a more and more customer specific production the boundary conditions for assembly automation have changed significantly. As the systems available on the market cannot cover this extreme flexibility towards weekly changing applications, a new robot system concept will be developed within PRACE. An important requirement is the ability to train the robot system with worker skill fast and intuitive. The PRACE concept basically relies on a robot learning by demonstration. We compare the robot learning to a master-apprentice relationship. There, a master teaches an apprentice by instructing certain skills by demonstration. The apprentice watches the actions and effects to categorize this newly gathered knowledge into his knowledge base. Then, while applying this new skill, the master corrects the execution by refining the experience. This loop is iterated until the master is satisfied with the result. Another important aspect of the PRACE robot system is the operation without safeguards to reach the target of fast setup times. Operation without safeguards however limits the maximum robot velocity. To remain competitive with the human worker a dual-armed robot approach is followed to reach a similar working output as the human worker by modest robot velocities. With the combination of dual-armed manipulation and a mobile platform to provide local mobility within the workplace basic new application tasks may be now automated economically by this new system approach. Using a modular approach the PRACE system can even be recombined to use only parts of the robot system for dedicated applications, i.e. using only a single arm or using the system without mobility. Different assembly use cases are defined as test environment of the PRACE concept. At end of the project an evaluation phase in real production environment is planned to test the functionality of the system and to ensure the ability to train the system by non-expert users within half a day.
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Start date: 01-11-2011
End date: 31-10-2014
Total budget - Public funding: 4 819 065,00 Euro - 3 390 119,00 Euro
Call topic: Cooperative machines and open-architecture control systems (FoF.NMP.2011-2)