ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs
AutoMAP addresses applications of robotic mobile manipulation in unstructured environments as found at CERN, as shown in the Figure 1. The proposal is based on use case operations to be carried out on CERN’s flagship accelerator, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC), which is the most powerful accelerator in the world and has been in operation since 2010. Collimators are electromechanical devices installed at regular intervals around the 27km long LHC tunnel to ensure optimum quality particle beams are delivered to the experiments. There are approximately 100 collimators of different types in operation at any one time and new collimators are being produced to replace any failed devices and improve their performance.
The main motivation for carrying out maintenance work using a remotely controlled mobile robot is to reduce maintenance personnel exposure to hazards in the LHC tunnels – such as ionising radiation and oxygen deficiency hazards, as shown in the Figure 2. A second motivation is that the robot will be able to autonomously carry out the same tasks in the assembly facility as in the tunnel on collimators during their initial build and quality assurance. The mobile manipulation tasks dealt with in this proposal are carried out in two distinct environments:
In the low-volume collimator assembly and test workshop at CERN (assembly and quality testing as part of initial build of collimators)
This robotic mobile manipulation system will be easily reconfigured by non-specialist personnel to perform autonomous/semi-autonomous tasks in the unstructured environment (autonomous navigation and identification of various types of collimators). Implementing a high performance teleoperation capability will also be necessary for the work in the LHC tunnel to allow safe teaching and learning for robot by teleoperation demonstration and to allow recovery without damaging delicate accelerator equipment in the event of unforeseen problems.
Figure 2: Collimator's Maintenance Spots
For this purpose, IIT will bring together a collection of robotic experts with years of experience in solving industrial problems. This research group, from its Department of Advanced Robotics (ADVR), will interact closely with experts from CERN to develop this robotic system. The technologies finally applied will include dexterous grasping and manipulation, customized robot end-effector design and development, remote operation and robot learning, the use of compliance mechanism for improved interaction safety within the environment, image based object detection, simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM) and real time communication software development. The work plan will focus on the study of the CERN use case combining these robotic technology. The final robotic system will build on the KUKA OmniRob mobile manipulation platform integrated with robotic technologies in SW/HW developed by IIT.
This system with its expected performance will have a major impact on safety and manufacturing. The overall maintenance time and personnel exposure in the hazardous environment will be dramatically reduced thanks to the use of robots. The technology and systems developed in this work will be readily transferable to the maintenance of thousands of other key components along the LHC tunnel and more widely to other external scientific and industrial facilities where a hostile and unstructured working environment is a feature. This proposal will also impact generic components assembly technologies, having important implications and benefits for European SMEs involved in complicated assembly process and precision manufacturing.
ICT Innovation for Manufacturing SMEs