Flexible robotics challenges for the transport industry

29 June,2021 - BY admin

Flexible robotics challenges for the transport industry

Unlike traditional automation, the evolution of robotics allows human-machine collaboration. Instead of repeating the same cycles in a fixed sequence, it adapts according to the context, achieving full cooperation with the enviroment. Similarly, several robots can collaborate with each other for the following purposes:

  • Execution of tasks that are not ergonomic or with a high risk for the safety of people.
  • Execution of non-value-added tasks.
  • To provide flexibility to manufacturing processes:
    • …by adapting tasks according to the context.
    • …by moving to different positions or lines.

Nowadays, industries -especially the transport industry- are faced to find flexible and advanced technologies that help improve productivity, reduce the human factor risks and promote a global sustainable development. These solutions have to consider aspects such as economic viability, scalability and smartization.

Nevertheless, flexible and mobile robotic system technologies are still in the research and development phase, so it is necessary to know and understand the roadmap being followed by all stakeholders. This, allows to identify new research topics and determine strategies that enable the acceleration of development and implementation of these technologies.

For this reason, ODIN Project is focused on bringing these slutions to the market, not only to demonstrate that novel robot-based production systems are technically feasible, but also efficient and sustainable for immediate introduction at the shopfloor.

In this regard, all the scientific publications hosted in the main research database from 2015 to 2021 related to flexible and mobile robotic systems and transport sector were retrieved and analyzed using advanced bibliometric techniques. As a result, three main research areas could be identified: (i) Robotic Systems, (ii) Advanced Control Systems, and (iii) Robotic Applications.

  • Robotic Systems covers research themes such as artificial vision technologies, automation technologies, force control system, industrial applications, industry 4.0 applications, intelligent robots, mobile manipulator, robotic assembly, robotic manipulators, and robotic systems.
  • Advanced Control Systems covers research themes such as: adaptive control systems, advanced algorithms, advanced control systems, advanced simulation methods, flexible structures, motion control system, networked control systems, robot programming, robust control systems, and unmanned robots.
  • Robotic Applications covers research themes suchas as: accident prevention, assembly technologies, degrees of freedom (mechanics), embedded systems, flexible manipulators, human machine interaction, industrial environments, industrial manipulators, industrial robots, manufacturing process, mobile robots, modular robots, parallel manipulators, position control system, and robot controls.

Considering the main research topics identified in the scientific literature, it can be highlighted the relationship with other knowledge areas suchs artificial intelligence, machine learning, internet of things and wireless connectivity.

Ultimately, the challenge lies in defining processes that simultaneously meet the following requirements:

  • Versatility: ability of a process to manufacture multiple references and embrace product design changes.
  • Flexibility: ability of a process to change from one reference to another depending on the context.
  • Ability to manufacture "right the first time":
  • Automation: evolution of skills of workers, oriented towards supervision.

This line of action is specific to each manufacturing technology since the solution to be applied is highly dependent on the specific process, although there are a number of common actions that can be covered. The development of this line of action favors the implementation of mass customization strategies, which will be also tackled in some ODIN Project demonstrators.



Author: AIC-Automotive Intelligence Center (Technical Unit)

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