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The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute announced eight new robotics technology projects. These projects respond to pervasive areas of need in U.S. manufacturing and, specifically, address key Department of Defense (DoD) manufacturing-focused Modernization Priorities.
The selected projects address issues found by the DoD and commercial community to be the most urgent and important that the ARM Institute’s ecosystem of 330+ member organizations can help solve.
Overall, the projects are aligned with the ARM Institute’s mission to strengthen U.S. manufacturing and empower workers. The ARM Institute plans to award nearly $4M in project funding, for a total contribution of approximately $8M across these eight projects.
Here are brief descriptions of each awarded project:
AI Robot Programming Assistance
Lead: University of Memphis
Partners: READY Robotics, FedEx, DeepHow
There are technologies that can now dramatically reduce the knowledge necessary to program and install a robot, using no-code methods that make robotic programming accessible to those on the factory floor. However, there is still the limitation of process automation knowledge that can bottleneck or be a detriment to a successful robotic installation. This project aims to create an assistance system which can act as a stopgap for this lack of expertise by providing suggestions and corrections during robot task programming. This system will use AI and Machine Learning methods to learn a model of the industrial task from previously programmed tasks and use this corpus to aid the user. This will allow a novice programmer to approach expert-level programming.
Visual Tactile Robotic Surface Inspections
Partners: GelSight Inc., Carnegie Mellon University, ATI Specialty Alloys and Components, Boeing
This project will develop a robotic vision and visual tactile inspection system that automates high-resolution surface defect inspections of spacecraft components and commercial airplane fuselages. Aircraft maintenance processes which incorporate these robotic technological improvements, particularly technology that improves quality of the inspection as well as replaces manual operations, offer the opportunity to significantly improve the reliability, maintainability, and readiness of aviation assets and ultimately to reduce the lifecycle costs of the fleet. The use of artificial intelligence and robotics will allow the system to standardize and learn inspection processes for many components in different industries, which would also benefit a broad subset of ARM Institute members.
Optimized Robot Motion Program for Tracking Complex Geometric Paths
Lead: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Partners: GE Research, Southwest Research Institute, Wason Technology
This project aims to autonomously create a high-speed and high-precision curvilinear robot tool trajectory on a complex curved geometry using industrial robots with redundant degrees of freedom, to reduce or eliminate the need for manual tuning often required today. The project will develop an optimization approach to decompose a given path to a sequence of robot motion primitives to achieve minimum cycle time with guaranteed tracking accuracy. Simulation-based data will be used to train machine learning tools to reduce the optimization computation time.
Autonomous Robotic Metal Forming
Lead: The Ohio State University
Partners: Yaskawa, CapSen Robotics
The project team will address the challenge of low volume, high mix production of complex metallic components. Metallic components are commonplace in the commercial automotive sector, high-end auto sports, heavy-duty factory machinery, power plants, and in air, land, and sea-based military equipment. When replacement components are needed, particularly for aging systems, quality, cost, and lead-time are often unable to be balanced for an acceptable solution. The team will design and deploy an artificial intelligent (AI) robotic system capable of flexibly producing a myriad of component geometries in a timely and cost-effective manner.
Uniform Work Robotic Sanding with Intra-stage Inspection
Lead: GKN Aerospace
Partners: National Institute of Aerospace Research, GrayMatter Robotics, University of Washington, EWI
Past ARM Institute projects on automated surface-finishing worked on path-planning, uniform finishing, and automated inspection. The project team will combine the outputs from these past projects to create an effective sanding and polishing technology that benefits multiple industries.
High Precision Adaptive Machining for High Temperature Materials
Lead: GE Research
Partners: GrayMatter Robotics, FANUC
The project team will focus on enabling high-precision adaptive machining of complex cooling circuits in high temperature materials through the development of an open architecture framework that integrates sensor data and automatically adjusts tool paths and process parameters to achieve an optimal solution for laser drilling. Sensing will be used both to inspect for variability in the incoming part and in-process to monitor progress of the machining operation. This project will reduce scrap rate through improved process control & repeatability and create a framework which allows for easy interchange of alternative tools and/or sensors to fit the end-user’s target application.
Ceramic Matrix Composites Pick, Place, and Form Automation
Partners: University of Southern California, 3M Company
To ensure the affordability of defense and commercial high temperature structures, cost effective means of fabricating high quality, temperature resistant material components at higher manufacturing rates is essential. The project team plans to develop automated trajectory planning for forming fabric-based prepregs to contours, automated in-process inspection for un-compacted areas and automated generation of rework tool paths, and self-corrective robotic recovery for prepreg backing film removal failures.
Safe Robotic Handling of Energetic Materials
Lead: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Partners: Schlumberger, Interface Technologies, FANUC
The project team aims to develop fundamental technologies for robotic handling of energetic materials. Manufacturing with energetic materials imposes numerous constraints on the manufacturing process; paramount among these are limitations on the mass of energetic material that can be present at any given time within a given space. In this project, we seek to reduce this exposure by applying robotics to an energetics refilling operation. Execution of this project will demonstrate safety systems, robotic manipulation strategies and designs that are immediately applicable to manufacturing of shaped charges, as well as more broadly to the production of other devices and products that use energetics and advance the state of the art in this field.