The purpose of this study has been to evaluate the technology of autonomous mobile manipulation in a real world industrial manufacturing environment. The objective has been to obtain experience in the integration with existing equipment and determine key challenges in maturing the technology to a level of readiness suitable for industry. Despite much research within the topic of industrial mobile manipulation, the technology has not yet found its way to the industry. To mature the technology to a level of readiness suitable for industry real-world experience is crucial. This paper reports from such a real-world industrial experiment with two mobile manipulators.
In the experiment, autonomous industrial mobile manipulators are integrated into the actual manufacturing environment of the pump manufacturer Grundfos. The two robots together solve the task of producing rotors; a task constituted by several sub-tasks ranging from logistics to complex assembly. With a total duration of 10 days, the experiment includes workspace adaptation, safety regulations, rapid robot instruction and running production.
With a setup time of less than one day, it was possible to program both robots to perform the production scenario in collaboration. Despite the success, the experiment clearly demonstrated several topics in need of further research before the technology can be made available to the industry: robustness and cycle time, safety investigations and possibly standardization, and robot and workstation re-configurability.
Despite the attention of research around the world, the topic of industrial mobile manipulation has only seen a limited number of real-world integrations. This work reports from a comprehensive integration into a real-world running production and thus reports on the key challenges identified from this integration.
The authors extend special thanks to Grundfos A/S for making this experiment possible and for continuous support and discussions regarding technology transfer to industry. This work was partially supported by the EU PF7 project TAPAS, FP7-2010-NMP-ICT-FoF, Grant number 260026.
Madsen, O., Bøgh, S., Schou, C., Andersen, R.S., Damgaard, J.S., Pedersen, M.R. and Krüger, V. (2015), "Integration of mobile manipulators in an industrial production", Industrial Robot, Vol. 42 No. 1, pp. 11-18. https://doi.org/10.1108/IR-09-2014-0390
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