Humans and robots working collaboratively on assembly lines can boost
productivity, reduce costs of assembly systems, eliminate the need for
high-priced automation solutions and improve worker safety.
With this in mind, the EU-funded LIAA
(Lean intelligent assembly automation) project is developing a software framework for assembly systems that merges the capacities of humans and robots while exploiting and complementing their strengths.
The framework enables the use of robot assistants on assembly floors through existing lightweight robots sold commercially, inexpensive sensors and open source robot control software. The workstation will assign jobs accordingly and send specialised commands and instructions. Staff will work alongside robots on the floor and both will be updated on each other's progress.
During the first reporting period, five industrial pilot cases were defined in collaboration with European end users from various industrial sectors and with different assembly applications. As a result, nearly 90 user stories have been produced that outline the demands and requirements of both workers and robots. The stories also reveal that safety and communication play key roles for humans and robots to successfully coexist in an assembly work setting.
The requirements and specifications of the framework have been defined, and the main technologies and software components identified. Documents have been delivered that describe the framework and development infrastructure and identify target groups within the scientific and industrial communities and associated dissemination channels.
LIAA has set out to prove that humans and robots can work together efficiently and safely for the benefit of the manufacturing industry.