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Article
Publication date: 15 August 2016

Richard Bloss

The purpose of this paper is to review the dramatic entry of collaborative robotics into applications. It also examines the current state of the art for collaborative

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the dramatic entry of collaborative robotics into applications. It also examines the current state of the art for collaborative robotics, factors driving their entry and their outlook for the future.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper includes discussions with key managers of robot companies. Attendance at the International Federation for Robotics round table discussion on collaboration and another industry round table meeting on collaborative robotics. Attendance at the CIRP technical conference on automation. Attendance at the Robotics Industry Association International Collaborative Robots Workshop.

Findings

Collaborative robotics are addressing many previously unmet applications while saving money, improving productivity, simplifying programming and speeding the time to return investment. It is forecast that collaborative robotics systems can address almost 100 million assembly and logistics tasks not previously addressable with traditional robotics technology.

Practical implications

The paper implies a major examination of collaborative robot technology now and in the future. Readers may be very excited to learn the many new tasks that collaborative robots are addressing, the many tools that have been developed to aid in selecting, designing and gaining worker acceptance and the many unique benefits that are provided, as well as the systems already available.

Originality/value

The paper implies a major examination of collaborative robot technology now and in the future. Readers may be very excited to learn the many new tasks that collaborative robots are addressing, the many tools that have been developed to aid in selecting, designing and gaining worker acceptance and the many unique benefits that are provided, as well as the systems already available.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 18 January 2016

Robert Bogue

– This paper aims to provide a European perspective on the collaborative robot business and to consider the factors governing future market development.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a European perspective on the collaborative robot business and to consider the factors governing future market development.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an introduction, this first describes the collaborative robots launched recently by European manufacturers and their applications. It then discusses major European research activities and finally considers the factors stimulating the market.

Findings

This article shows that collaborative robots are being commercialised by the major European robot manufacturers as well as by several smaller specialists. Although most have low payload capacities they are inexpensive and offer a number of operational benefits, making them well suited to a range of existing and emerging applications. Europe has a strong research base and several EU-funded programmes aim to stimulate collaborative robot development and use. Rapid market development is anticipated, driven in the main by applications in electronic product manufacture and assembly; new applications in the automotive industry; uses by small to medium-sized manufacturers; and companies seeking robots to support agile production methods.

Originality/value

This paper provides a timely review of the rapidly developing European collaborative robot industry.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 2003

Paul G. Ranky

Multi‐arm, collaborative, synchronous robots are gaining acceptance in industry, because of the cycle time reduction, productivity increase, flexibility and quality gain…

Abstract

Multi‐arm, collaborative, synchronous robots are gaining acceptance in industry, because of the cycle time reduction, productivity increase, flexibility and quality gain, distributed control, layout design/simulation, and programming support robot manufacturers and system integrators can offer. On the negative side, when things go wrong such systems are more complex to recover, and maintain, than non‐networked and non‐distributed controlled individual robots. In this paper, we introduce some of the most important engineering, and technology management principles that collaborate robots and their users and should be kept in mind while developing such systems, and/or planning for such applications.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 30 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 17 June 2019

Ali Ahmad Malik and Arne Bilberg

Over the past years, collaborative robots have been introduced as a new generation of industrial robotics working alongside humans to share the workload. These robots have…

Abstract

Purpose

Over the past years, collaborative robots have been introduced as a new generation of industrial robotics working alongside humans to share the workload. These robots have the potential to enable human–robot collaboration (HRC) for flexible automation. However, the deployment of these robots in industrial environments, particularly in assembly, still comprises several challenges, of which one is skills-based tasks distribution between humans and robots. With ever-decreasing product life cycles and high-mix low volume production, the skills-based task distribution is to become a frequent activity. This paper aims to present a methodology for tasks distribution between human and robot in assembly work by complexity-based tasks classification.

Design/methodology/approach

The assessment method of assembly tasks is based on the physical features of the components and associated task description. The attributes that can influence assembly complexity for automation are presented. Physical experimentation with a collaborative robot and work with several industrial cases helped to formulate the presented method.

Findings

The method will differentiate the tasks with higher complexity of handling, mounting, human safety and part feeding from low-complexity tasks, thereby simplifying collaborative automation in HRC scenario. Such structured method for tasks distribution in HRC can significantly reduce deployment and changeover times.

Originality/value

Assembly attributes affecting HRC automation are identified. The methodology is presented for evaluating tasks for assigning to the robot and creating a work–load balance forming a human–robot work team. Finally, an assessment tool for simplified industrial deployment.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 46 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 30 June 2020

Zoltan Dobra and Krishna S. Dhir

Recent years have seen a technological change, Industry 4.0, in the manufacturing industry. Human–robot cooperation, a new application, is increasing and facilitating…

Abstract

Purpose

Recent years have seen a technological change, Industry 4.0, in the manufacturing industry. Human–robot cooperation, a new application, is increasing and facilitating collaboration without fences, cages or any kind of separation. The purpose of the paper is to review mainstream academic publications to evaluate the current status of human–robot cooperation and identify potential areas of further research.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature review is offered that searches, appraises, synthetizes and analyses relevant works.

Findings

The authors report the prevailing status of human–robot collaboration, human factors, complexity/ programming, safety, collision avoidance, instructing the robot system and other aspects of human–robot collaboration.

Practical implications

This paper identifies new directions and potential research in practice of human–robot collaboration, such as measuring the degree of collaboration, integrating human–robot cooperation into teamwork theories, effective functional relocation of the robot and product design for human robot collaboration.

Originality/value

This paper will be useful for three cohorts of readers, namely, the manufacturers who require a baseline for development and deployment of robots; users of robots-seeking manufacturing advantage and researchers looking for new directions for further exploration of human–machine collaboration.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 47 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 9 September 2014

Rainer Müller, Matthias Vette and Matthias Scholer

The paper aims to deliver an approach of how lightweight robot systems can be used to automate manual processes for higher efficiency, increased process capability and…

Abstract

Purpose

The paper aims to deliver an approach of how lightweight robot systems can be used to automate manual processes for higher efficiency, increased process capability and enhanced ergonomics. To show how these systems can be utilized in practice, a new collaborative testing system for an automated water leak test was designed using an image processing system utilized by the robot.

Design/methodology/approach

The “water leak test” in an automotive final assembly line is often a significant cost factor due to its labour-intensive nature. This is particularly the case for premium car manufacturers as each vehicle is watered and manually inspected for leakage. This paper delivers an approach that optimizes the efficiency and capability of the test process by using a new automated in-line inspection system whereby thermographic images are taken by a lightweight robot system and then processed to locate the leak. Such optimization allows the collaboration of robots and manual labour which, in turn, enhances the capability of the process station.

Findings

This paper examines the development of novel applications for lightweight robotic systems and provides a suitable process whereby the systems are optimized in technical, ergonomic and safety-related aspects.

Research limitations/implications

A new automated testing process in combination with a processing algorithm was developed.

Practical implications

To optimize and validate the system, it was set up in a true to reality model factory and brought to a prototypical status. Several original equipment manufacturers showed great interest in implementing the system in their assembly line.

Social implications

The direct human–robot collaboration allows humans and robots to share the same workspace without strict separation measures which is a great advantage compared with traditional industrial robots. The workers benefit from a more ergonomic workflow and are relieved from unpleasant, repetitive and burdensome tasks.

Originality/value

A lightweight robotic system was implemented in a continuous assembly line as a new area of application for these systems. The automated water leak test gives a practical example of how to enrich the assembly and commissioning lines, which are currently dominated by manual labour, with new technologies. This is necessary to reach a higher efficiency and process capability while maintaining a higher flexibility potential than fully automated systems.

Details

Assembly Automation, vol. 34 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-5154

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Article
Publication date: 11 January 2008

O. Reinoso, A. Gil, L. Payá and M. Juliá

This paper aims to present a teleoperation system that allows one to control a group of mobile robots in a collaborative manner. In order to show the capabilities of the…

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to present a teleoperation system that allows one to control a group of mobile robots in a collaborative manner. In order to show the capabilities of the collaborative teleoperation system, it seeks to present a task where the operator collaborates with a robot team to explore a remote environment in a coordinated manner. The system implements human‐robot interaction by means of natural language interfaces, allowing one to teleoperate multiple mobile robots in an unknown, unstructured environment. With the supervision of the operator, the robot team builds a map of the environment with a vision‐based simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) technique. The approach is well suited for search and rescue tasks and other applications where the operator may guide the exploration of the robots to certain areas in the map.

Design/methodology/approach

In opposition with a master‐slave scheme of teleoperation, an exploration mechanism is proposed that allows one to integrate the commands expressed by a human operator in an exploration task, where the actions expressed by the human operator are taken as an advice. In consequence, the robots in the remote environment choose their movements that improve the estimation of the map and best suit the requirements of the operator.

Findings

It is shown that the collaborative mechanism presented is suitable to control a robot team that explores an unstructured environment. Experimental results are presented that demonstrate the validity of the approach.

Practical implications

The system implements human‐robot interaction by means of natural language interfaces. The robots are equipped with stereo heads and are able to find stable visual landmarks in the environment. Based on these visual landmarks, the robot team is able to build a map of the environment using a vision‐based SLAM technique. SONAR proximity sensors are used to avoid collisions and find traversable ways. The robot control architecture is based on common object request broker architecture technology and allows one to operate a group of robots with dissimilar features.

Originality/value

This work extends the concept of collaborative teleoperation to the exploration of a remote environment using a team of mobile robots.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 35 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 19 June 2017

Robert Bogue

This paper aims to provide details of the safety considerations, technologies and standards associated with robots that interact with, or operate in proximity to, humans.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide details of the safety considerations, technologies and standards associated with robots that interact with, or operate in proximity to, humans.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an introduction, this paper first considers collaborative robots and discusses their safety features and the new technical specification ISO/TS 15066, together with certain allied safety standards. It then discusses ISO 13482 and a range of assistive, personal care and service robots which comply with this and highlights new standards that are under development. Mobile warehouse and delivery robots are then considered, together with the safety technologies used and the associated standards. Finally, brief concluding comments are drawn.

Findings

The recent proliferation of robots that interact with humans or operate in proximity to them has led to the development of standards and specifications which seek to ensure safe operation. These allow robot manufacturers to design inherently safe products that will gain market acceptance and also help to inspire confidence among users. A number of new standards and specifications have been proposed or are being developed, and this trend is set to continue as new classes of robotic products emerge.

Originality/value

All manner of robots are being developed which interact with humans, and this provides details of the associated safety considerations, technologies and standards.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 44 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 20 May 2019

Cristian Alejandro Vergara, Gianni Borghesan, Erwin Aertbeliën and Joris De Schutter

The purpose of this paper is to develop a control strategy for human–robot collaborative manipulation tasks that can deal with proximity signals from 373 interconnected…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to develop a control strategy for human–robot collaborative manipulation tasks that can deal with proximity signals from 373 interconnected cells of an artificial skin.

Design/methodology/approach

The robot and the operator accomplish an industrial task while interacting in a shared workspace. The robot controller detects and avoids collisions based on the information from the artificial skin. Conflicting constraints can be handled by prioritizing between hard and soft constraints or by weighing the different constraints.

Findings

Weak soft constraints (low weight) are specified to command the robot to move along a nominal path with constant velocity. Stronger soft constraints (higher weight) prevent collisions by means of either moving the end effector backward along the path or circumventing an obstacle. The proposed approach is validated experimentally.

Originality/value

As a first contribution, this paper proposes a discrete optimization algorithm activates an a priori selected maximum number of cells. The algorithm selects the appropriate distribution based on the amplitude of each signal and the spatial distribution of the proximity measurements. A second contribution is the specification of a human–robot collaborative application as an optimization problem using eTaSL (expression graph-based task specification language), which provides reactive control.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 46 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 19 March 2018

Philip Long, Christine Chevallereau, Damien Chablat and Alexis Girin

The installation of industrial robots requires security barriers, a costly, time-consuming exercise. Collaborative robots may offer a solution; however, these systems only…

Abstract

Purpose

The installation of industrial robots requires security barriers, a costly, time-consuming exercise. Collaborative robots may offer a solution; however, these systems only comply with safety standards if operating at reduced speeds. The purpose of this paper is to describe the development and implementation of a novel security system that allows human–robot coexistence while permitting the robot to execute much of its task at nominal speed.

Design/methodology/approach

The security system is defined by three modes: a nominal mode, a coexistence mode and a gravity compensation mode. Mode transition is triggered by three lasers, two of which are mechanically linked to the robot. These scanners create a dynamic envelope around the robot and allow the detection of operator presence or environmental changes. To avoid velocity discontinuities between transitions, the authors propose a novel time scaling method.

Findings

The paper describes the system’s mechanical, software and control architecture. The system is demonstrated experimentally on a collaborative robot and is compared with the performance of a state-of-art security system. Both a qualitative and quantitative analysis of the new system is carried out.

Practical implications

The mode transition method is easily implemented, requires little computing power and leaves the trajectories unchanged. As velocity discontinuities are avoided, motor wear is reduced. The execution time is substantially less than a commercial alternative. These advantages can lead to economic benefits in high-volume manufacturing environments.

Originality/value

This paper proposes a novel system that is based on industrial material but can generate dynamic safety zones for a collaborative robot.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 45 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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