Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Mobile Robots for the Aerospace Industry

01.12.2015

The aerospace industry is showing how it’s done: The factory of the future is clearly taking shape here. In their EU project VALERI, European researchers and industry partners have demonstrated that mobile manipulators, i.e. mobile industrial robots, are fully able to work side by side with human colleagues. The robots in this project are applying sealant to aircraft fuselages or inspecting aircraft parts, for instance.

Coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Factory Operation and Automation IFF in Magdeburg, the experts specifically aimed to automate manufacturing jobs that can be hazardous to health or are extremely monotonous and physically strenuous.


José Navarro from IDPSA and José Saenz from the Fraunhofer IFF examine how VALERI has applied sealant to an aircraft part.

picture: KUKA

They also want to have jobs with many steps that recur throughout the aircraft manufacturing process performed by one single mobile robot in the future. Robots will not replace skilled labor. Rather, they will simplify their work and assist them in their jobs.

Researchers in the VALERI project (Validation of Advanced, Collaborative Robotics for Industrial Applications) established the technical conditions for humans and robots to work next to each other. Taking the application of sealant to aircraft fuselages and the inspection of parts as model tasks, they demonstrated at Airbus DS facilities in Seville that protective barriers will no longer be needed in future manufacturing facilities.

Then, humans and robots will be working right next to each other, maybe even on the same part, and still act autonomously. The project partners added a second inspection sensor to the VALERI robot system to additionally demonstrate the flexibility of the system for use in other manufacturing industries, too. The experts are breaking new ground with VALERI, making their vision for human-robot collaboration and the aerospace industry reality and getting one step closer to Industry 4.0.

The industrial end-users Airbus DS and FACC, the industrial robotics manufacturer KUKA Robotics GmbH, systems integrator IDPSA, and the research partners PROFACTOR GmbH and PRODINTEC were involved in the VALERI project. The project was funded by the European Commission with € 3.6 million under FP7 “Factories of the Future”.

More Flexibility

Humans work on large parts in a stationary production cell in manufacturing. Over a period of days, several shifts of workers assemble and inspect the parts. Specialized, stationary robotic systems are not cost effective in such a manufacturing environment. That is supposed to change in the future: A mobile robot will be performing similar tasks at several workstations. This is why the VALERI system needs to be more flexible than traditional, stationary industrial robots.

Complex Challenges

The project focused on three model jobs: applying sealant along a groove, subsequently inspecting the sealant, and inspecting braided carbon parts. While the first two applications are closely related, the VALERI consortium selected a third application to demonstrate the system’s overall flexibility. The robot is able to change tools. Programming it to execute entirely new operations is done quickly and intuitively.

Individual Technologies, Highly Integrated System

At the outset of the project, KUKA modified an existing omniRob robot to have a reach suitable for the range of tasks planned. This included adding a rotatable linear axis atop the mobile platform, thus giving the robot twelve degrees of freedom and a reach comparable to that of a human. Such a hyper-redundant system necessitated coordinating all of its motions - real mobile manipulation – so that the VALERI robot could be programmed intuitively and could perform all of its tasks.

The researchers from the Fraunhofer IFF in Magdeburg developed tactile sensors and a camera-based workplace monitoring system as safety technologies for direct human-robot collaboration. The tactile sensors detect contact and the robot stops before biomechanical thresholds are reached. The researchers had determined the maximum allowable robot speeds beforehand.

These data are extremely important for the global robotics community – they will aid in the validation of collaborative robots with power and force limiting safeguards. What is more, the tactile sensors can be used for haptic interaction with the robot. User studies have confirmed that haptic interaction that essentially requires operators to give the robot a push in the direction it should move is very intuitive to use.

The workplace monitoring system consists of a time-of-flight camera combined with three stereo camera pairs. It tracks a tool’s movement and creates a virtual safeguarded zone around it. The robot stops if a human or object enters this safeguarded zone, thus preventing any collision.

The experts from IDPSA developed the tool that applies sealant and integrated it in the robot controller, thus making it possible to closely coordinate the application of sealant with the robot’s peed and orientation. Sealant is now applied along curved and flat trajectories significantly better.

The research organization Prodintec adapted and integrated a camera-based tool that localizes parts. The camera captures 3D point clouds and uses CAD matching-software to identify and localize parts. This enables VALERI to locate and work on parts, which are sometimes on rollers and not always in the same spot in the factory. The company Profactor developed and integrated two other tools, which the VALERI robot can use to inspect applied sealant and braided carbon parts.

The VALERI project has received funding by the European Union Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement number 314774.

Weitere Informationen:

http://www.iff.fraunhofer.de/en/business-units/robotic-systems/research/robotics... for more information on robots in manufacturing
http://www.valeri-project.eu/ - for more information on the VALERI-project

Anna-Kristina Mahler | Fraunhofer-Institut für Fabrikbetrieb und -automatisierung IFF

More articles from Machine Engineering:

nachricht Satellite-based Laser Measurement Technology against Climate Change
17.01.2017 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Lasertechnik ILT

nachricht LZH optimizes laser-based CFRP reworking for the aircraft industry
24.11.2016 | Laser Zentrum Hannover e.V.

All articles from Machine Engineering >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Quantum optical sensor for the first time tested in space – with a laser system from Berlin

For the first time ever, a cloud of ultra-cold atoms has been successfully created in space on board of a sounding rocket. The MAIUS mission demonstrates that quantum optical sensors can be operated even in harsh environments like space – a prerequi-site for finding answers to the most challenging questions of fundamental physics and an important innovation driver for everyday applications.

According to Albert Einstein's Equivalence Principle, all bodies are accelerated at the same rate by the Earth's gravity, regardless of their properties. This...

Im Focus: Traffic jam in empty space

New success for Konstanz physicists in studying the quantum vacuum

An important step towards a completely new experimental access to quantum physics has been made at University of Konstanz. The team of scientists headed by...

Im Focus: How gut bacteria can make us ill

HZI researchers decipher infection mechanisms of Yersinia and immune responses of the host

Yersiniae cause severe intestinal infections. Studies using Yersinia pseudotuberculosis as a model organism aim to elucidate the infection mechanisms of these...

Im Focus: Interfacial Superconductivity: Magnetic and superconducting order revealed simultaneously

Researchers from the University of Hamburg in Germany, in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Aarhus in Denmark, have synthesized a new superconducting material by growing a few layers of an antiferromagnetic transition-metal chalcogenide on a bismuth-based topological insulator, both being non-superconducting materials.

While superconductivity and magnetism are generally believed to be mutually exclusive, surprisingly, in this new material, superconducting correlations...

Im Focus: Studying fundamental particles in materials

Laser-driving of semimetals allows creating novel quasiparticle states within condensed matter systems and switching between different states on ultrafast time scales

Studying properties of fundamental particles in condensed matter systems is a promising approach to quantum field theory. Quasiparticles offer the opportunity...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Sustainable Water use in Agriculture in Eastern Europe and Central Asia

19.01.2017 | Event News

12V, 48V, high-voltage – trends in E/E automotive architecture

10.01.2017 | Event News

2nd Conference on Non-Textual Information on 10 and 11 May 2017 in Hannover

09.01.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking movement of immune cells identifies key first steps in inflammatory arthritis

23.01.2017 | Health and Medicine

Electrocatalysis can advance green transition

23.01.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

New technology for mass-production of complex molded composite components

23.01.2017 | Process Engineering

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>