In order for CoLLaboratE to successfully realize its vision several prerequisites are set in the form of major Scientific and Technological Objectives throughout the project duration. These are summarized in the following points:
Objective 1: To equip the robotic agents with basic collaboration skills easily adaptable to specific tasks
Objective 2: To develop a framework that enables non-experts teaching human-robot collaborative tasks from demonstration
Objective 3: The development of technologies that will enable autonomous assembly policy learning and policy improvement
Objective 4: To develop advanced safety strategies allowing effective human robot cooperation with no barriers and ergonomic performance monitoring
Objective 5: To develop techniques for controlling the production line while making optimal use of the resources by generating efficient production plans, employing reconfigurable hardware design, and utilising AGV’s with increased autonomy
Objective 6: To investigate the impact of Human-Robot Collaboration to the workers’ job satisfaction, as well as test easily applicable interventions in order to increase trust, satisfaction and performance
Objective 7: To validate CoLLaboratE system’s ability to facilitate genuine collaboration between robots and humans
The CoLLaboratE project will have profound impact on strengthening the competitiveness and growth of companies in the manufacturing sector:
- CoLLaboratE will develop a co-production cell for manufacturing production lines, capable to perform assembly operations through human-robot collaboration. This cell will be the result of inter-disciplinary technological advances that will be realized during the project, in a series of highly significant areas related to robotics and artificial intelligence. By the end of the project, the proposed system will be demonstrated and evaluated at TRL6, being ready for commercial take-up, allowing this assembled knowledge to be in turn, rapidly integrated in real production lines of industries and SMEs.
- CoLLaboratE will develop technologies for autonomous and collaborative assembly learning and teaching methods by non-experts so that no explicit robot programming will be required. As the products of industries, such as LCD TV’s rapidly evolve, flexibility so as to easily adapt in a new assembly task regarding a new product, is a major quality sought for modern assembly lines. Robots that need several months to be programmed and start working on the task are a rather unrealistic solution. Given the (a) time-consuming programming process typically required for industrial robots and (b) difficulties posed to robots from uncertainties in small parts assembly, cheap labour hands of low cost countries (LCCs) have so far been typically utilized instead of robotic solutions, through LCC assembly outsourcing strategies.
- CoLLaboratE service portfolio will include a set of innovative fast and flexible manufacturing techniques, combining the benefits of the reconfigurable hardware design and modern ICT technologies (e.g. AΙ, learning toolkit, digitization of assembling processes)
- CoLLaboratE will introduce novel AGVs on shop floors with enhanced capabilities, that apart from motion planning and obstacle detection, they will also be capable of detecting the intentions of human users in the factory in order to provide flexibility and facilitate the production process, along with optimal use of resources.
- CoLLaboratE will reduce delivery times and costs, whereas robot assembly techniques will also allow a much greater degree of customization and product variability. As it is highlighted in the euRobotics AISBL Strategic Research Agenda, the use of robotics in production is a key factor in making manufacturing within Europe economically viable; locating manufacturing in Europe through robotic solutions that will suppress LCC outsourcing is a major goal for the near future. Through flexible assembly lines, the manufacturing companies will be offered with great leverage over their innovation capacity and integration of new knowledge into their products.
- CoLLaboratE will pave the way for a new era in industrial assembly lines, where robots will present genuine collaboration with the human workers and will allow manufacturing industries to establish in-house robotic-based assembly lines, capable to rapidly adapt in continuously evolving products. Through its advances, SMEs holding robotic-based assembly lines, will benefit by acting as subcontractors for large industries, since they will be a viable alternative to LCC outsourcing.
It becomes clear that the CoLLaboratE project has profound potential to strengthen the competitiveness and growth of companies and bring back production to Europe, by implementing novel artificial intelligence technologies and integrating robots with collaborative skills in the production, meeting a specific, highly important need of European, as well as worldwide manufacturing industries toward their future growth and sustainability.