Automating the welding of custom‐built large structures becomes increasingly necessary due to the growing shortage of manual welders and competition from low‐wage countries. A consortium funded by the European Community is developing the technology necessary to make this possible.
Development and demonstration of an autonomous, mobile welding robot capable of fabricating large‐scale customised structures.
An autonomous welding robot has been developed under the EC Framework V Growth program. The system comprises a global vision system for part location and orientation, and a robot transport vehicle (RTV) which carries a 6‐axis robot, robot controller, welding equipment, and local sensors at the welding torch. The RTV path, robot arm motion and weld process programming are performed automatically using sensors and specially customised simulation software.
The technology developed within the project was demonstrated, in November 2004, to be capable of identifying and welding large scale customised structures as found in the earth moving equipment and bridge fabrication industries.
The project demonstrated that current sensor technology is capable of being applied successfully to autonomous robots, but further developments in sensor technology are required to improve accuracy and joint access.
The NOMAD concept of autonomous mobile robots provides an alternative solution to welding mass customised structures.
This project demonstrated, for the first time, the capability of autonomous robots to weld large scale customised structures.
‘A MAP OF THE WORLD that does not include Utopia is not worth glancing at’ wrote Oscar Wilde. ‘It leaves out the one country at which humanity is always landing. And when it lands there it looks out and, seeing a better country, sets sail again. Progress is the realization of Utopias’.