1 Aalborg U Robotics, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN2 The Faculty of Engineering and Science (ENG), Aalborg University, VBN3 Department of Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University, VBN4 Robotics and Automation, The Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University, VBN5 Visual Analysis of People Laboratory, The Technical Faculty of IT and Design, Aalborg University, VBN6 Robotics, Vision and Machine Intelligence (RVMI), The Faculty of Engineering and Science, Aalborg University, VBN7 Sektion København, The Technical Faculty of IT and Design, Aalborg University, VBN8 Aalborg University Copenhagen, The Faculty of Humanities, Aalborg University, VBN
Purpose – The purpose of this study has been to evaluate the technology of autonomous mobile manipulation in a real world industrial manufacturing environment. The objective has been to obtain experience in the integration with existing equipment and determine key challenges in maturing the technology to a level of readiness suitable for industry. Despite much research within the topic of industrial mobile manipulation, the technology has not yet found its way to the industry. To mature the technology to a level of readiness suitable for industry real-world experience is crucial. This paper reports from such a real-world industrial experiment with two mobile manipulators. Design/methodology/approach – In the experiment, autonomous industrial mobile manipulators are integrated into the actual manufacturing environment of the pump manufacturer Grundfos. The two robots together solve the task of producing rotors; a task constituted by several sub-tasks ranging from logistics to complex assembly. With a total duration of 10 days, the experiment includes workspace adaptation, safety regulations, rapid robot instruction and running production. Findings – With a setup time of less than one day, it was possible to program both robots to perform the production scenario in collaboration. Despite the success, the experiment clearly demonstrated several topics in need of further research before the technology can be made available to the industry: robustness and cycle time, safety investigations and possibly standardization, and robot and workstation re-configurability. Originality/value – Despite the attention of research around the world, the topic of industrial mobile manipulation has only seen a limited number of real-world integrations. This work reports from a comprehensive integration into a real-world running production and thus reports on the key challenges identified from this integration.