Periodic Reporting for period 1 - THOMAS (Mobile dual arm robotic workers with embedded cognition for hybrid and dynamically reconfigurable manufacturing systems)

"Europe is the home to around 2.3 million industrial manufacturing SMEs which represent the 99% of all EU companies. Their range of operations varies from mass production such as in the automotive, all the way to small batch production and even ?one of a kind? product...\n\n"Europe is the home to around 2.3 million industrial manufacturing SMEs which represent the 99% of all EU companies. Their range of operations varies from mass production such as in the automotive, all the way to small batch production and even ?one of a kind? product variability such as in the aeronautics sector. Robots have been used in the automation of tasks requiring high strength, ultra-high precision and great speed of execution. Their flexibility though is constrained by their inability to move across the shop floor and the lack of cognitive abilities to interact with their surroundings in a dynamic and safe way. Humans on the other hand have dominated the applications where high dexterity, craftsmanship and problem-solving capabilities are required. However, these environments usually contain hazardous tasks and even activities inducing great strain to human operators due to the high repetitiveness and high payloads that need to be manipulated.
The vision of THOMAS is: ""to create a dynamically reconfigurable shopfloor utilizing autonomous, mobile dual arm robots that are able to perceive their environment and through reasoning, cooperate with each other and with other production resources including human operators"" (Figure 1). Towards meeting this challenge, the overall objectives of THOMAS are to enable:
? Mobility on products and resources by introducing mobile robots able to navigate in the shopfloor and utilize dexterous tooling to perform multiple operations (THOMAS Mobile Robot Platform ? MRP and THOMAS Mobile Product Platform - MPP).
? Perception of the task and the environment using a) the individual resource?s and b) collaborative perception by combining sensors of multiple resources
? Dynamic balancing of workload. Allowing the resources to communicate over a common network and automatically adjust their behavior by sharing or reallocating tasks dynamically.
? Fast programming and automatic execution of new tasks by a) automatically generating the robot program for new products and b) applying skills over the perceived environment to determine required adaptations
? Safe human robot collaborative environments, eliminating physical barriers, by introducing cognitive abilities that allow the detection of humans and their intentions.
The project is based on industrial applications, aiming to implement the dynamic reconfigurable shopfloor paradigm in industrial environment with reliable equipment capable of supporting the reconfigurability, perception and cooperation among the multiple resources. The first demonstration from the automotive sector will involve the flexible assembly of a car?s front axle while the second demonstration inspired from the aeronautics sector, involves drilling, riveting inspection and surface preparation operations."\n\nThe work performed in the first period of the project may be summarized as follows:

? Definition of the pilot case scenarios (by M06)
o Automotive pilot case (Figure 2): This pilot case is focused on the assembly of a car?s front axle. Emphasis is given on enabling the MRP environment perception for autonomous navigation as well as docked navigation with the Mobile Product Platform (MPP). Adaptive skills based on input from process perception modules will be also implemented allowing the MRP to perform multiple operations such as assembly, handling and screwing. Human Robot Interaction and safety mechanisms will allow the humans to cooperate with the MRP. The execution of the cell will be monitored and coordinated by THOMAS station controller enabling dynamic reconfiguration of the task allocation and robot level adaption.
o Aeronautics pilot case (Figure 3): This pilot case will three different use cases: a) drilling operations, b) surface preparation operations and c) riveting inspection operations. The drilling use case will be the main demonstrator of the project in term of process perception automatically adapting robot skills on different product variants. The other use case will use results from previous projects in term of the detailed process execution and their focus will be to demonstrate the ability of the station controller to re-allocate the robot to different workstations while the latter will be able to navigate cell to cell performing different kind of operations using robot skills.
? Overall requirements and specifications extraction for the successful execution of use cases. In particular the following activities have been performed:
o Identification of the requirements for THOMAS enabling technologies and respective performance validation metrics
o Description of the reference architecture of the THOMAS modules.
o Identification & analysis of applicable law related to safety in mobile robot platforms? navigation as well as human robot collaboration.
o Deployment and management of the project web internal and public portal.
? THOMAS technologies design and individual prototypes. In particular, under this period, design and prototyping of the following enabling technologies has been performed:
o Mobile dual arm manipulator
o Safety system and Human Robot Interaction mechanisms
o Process and Environment perception
o CAD based programming and adaptive skills
o World model and work re-organization module
o Integration and communication platform ? network of services.\n\nTHOMAS identifies mobility as a key enabler for increasing current production systems? flexibility and modularity. The main difference with past attempts lies in the flexible nature of THOMAS mobile dual arm resources (Mobile Robot Platforms ? MRPs) which, unlike existing robotic systems, are capable of moving in different places and undertaking a variety of tasks in collaboration with human operators acting as assistants to them as well as with Mobile Product Platforms (MPP). The expected results of the project are the following:

? Mobile dual arm manipulators for flexible operations
? System for enabling docking and collaborative operation of mobile units
? Generic perception platform providing application- ready solutions for flexible robotics guiding
? Mobile platform navigation software library, complementing the traditional SLAM with vision-based accurate localization
? Fenceless environment monitoring and robot control software library
? Human Robot Interaction suite for collaborative assembly operations
? Decision making module for dynamic work re-organization in hybrid production environments
? Digital world model for Human Robot Collaborative operations
? Automatic programming software library providing an easy operations programming for product variants
? THOMAS Network of Resources and Station Controller
? Pilot cell for aeronautics assembly - THOMAS Open Production Station (OPS) customized for the aeronautics pilot case providing the following benefits:
o Reduction of cycle time and product quality by automating part of the process,
o Increase reconfigurability of job shop?s structure through resource mobility,
o Increase ergonomy and health conditions for human operators.
? Pilot cell for automotive moving line final assembly - THOMAS Open Production Station (OPS) customized for the automotive pilot case providing the following benefits:
o Reduction of musculoskeletal disorder of human operators
o Reduction of fixed and part specific equipment,
o Increase flexibility of the line to handle multi product variants assembly,
o Optimize human operator saturation level
More information
Mobile dual arm robotic workers with embedded cognition for hybrid and dynamically reconfigurable manufacturing systems
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