Cobots the focus of new Advanced Manufacturing Centre
Collaborative robotics (cobotics) applications that combine the strengths of humans and robots in shared environments will be developed by UTS researchers in a multidisciplinary team at a new Australian Research Council (ARC) Training Centre.
The Centre for Collaborative Robotics in Advanced Manufacturing is established with a $4.9 million grant from the Australian Government’s Industrial Transformation Research Program. Its challenge is to develop cobots that are intuitive, easy to use and safe, and which can be rapidly adopted by Australian manufacturers.
Led by Professor Jonathan Roberts from Queensland University of Technology (QUT), researchers from UTS, QUT and Swinburne University of Technology will build the human and technical capability Australia needs to underpin global competitiveness in advanced manufacturing. He said Australian manufacturing has an opportunity to be more globally competitive by improving manufacturing processes which would lower production costs and boost productivity
The intended outcome is to help Australian manufacturers shift toward higher-potential markets, compete globally and attract and retain a digitally-capable workforce for the future.
The Centre includes manufacturing businesses and will train researchers, engineers, designers, technologists and manufacturing leaders with the expertise needed by industry to boost safety, quality assurance, production efficiency, and workforce readiness.
The UTS group of Chief Investigators from the School of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering is led by Professor Jochen Deuse and includes Head of School Professor Robert Fitch, Deputy Head of School (Research) Dr Teresa Vidal Calleja, Dr Matthias Guertler, Dr Marc Carmichael, and Dr Mickey Clemon.
Individually they have worked in world-leading robotics research in areas as diverse as automated sheep shearing, abrasive blasting in confined spaces, and industrial manufacturing including applications in assembly, welding and materials handling.
Collectively, they bring knowledge and experience working in and with industry to deliver innovative solutions to real world problems and introducing robots to work with humans in a safe and collaborative way. Their research will include programming of robots by demonstration and applying traditional heavy duty industrial robots safely in collaborative human-robot work systems, i.e. cobot-systems.
Professor Deuse, the Centre’s Associate Director Industry Engagement, said collaborative robotics is at the core of Advanced Manufacturing and Industry 4.0, and Australia needs to explore and gain the full benefits from the opportunities that innovative technology is creating.
This includes developing and applying smart robotics and automation that can assist businesses of all size to achieve higher levels of productivity and workplace ergonomics that improved human-robot interaction will deliver. The goal is achieving ‘plug & produce’ cobot-systems for industrial applications in order to improve productivity and flexibility of manufacturing operations.
UTS has existing industry collaborations which have empowered workforces by improving safety and addressing the 3Ds – dangerous, dirty and dull.
The Centre will run for five years and will have five research programs covering the areas of biomimetic cobots; human-robot interaction; designing socio-technical robotic systems; quality assurance and compliance; and the human-robot workforce.