The adaptive robotics team aims to advance robot capabilities as a component of a wider industry 4.0 shift. With this in mind, we are developing a pilot flexible intralogistics line that forms part of a paradigm shift from linear assembly lines to “automated cells“ served by mobile robots. In IMR our pilot demonstration comprises 4 work-stations (either automated or manually operator) that complete an assembly task.
A mobile manipulator transports the work piece between stations, while a centralized controller can then operate at a system level by reading the sensor outputs from stations and robots. Finally our long term goal is to exploit this data to optimize the current assembly operation and to predict and adapt to future changes.
The classical fixed assembly line structure for manufacturing is an excellent solution for high volume low variability assembly operations. However, this structure is difficult to reconfigure and thus lacks flexibility as we move toward an era of mass customization envisaged by industry 4.0.
An alternative view is to use modular assembly lines, where cells of automation or human technicians carry out specific operations. Thus, instead of parts flowing from one station to another in a predefined linear fashion, the material is transported between stations by mobile robots whose tasks are defined by a higher level planner which by measuring production flow, sensors and quality can optimize the process.
Automation & Advanced Control