Led by The Manufacturing Technology Centre Ltd, we enter the Challenge as a mixed team representing both academia and industrial research. The Intelligent Robotics Lab at the University of Birmingham is one of the more active robotics laboratories in Europe. The group currently hold €4m in grants from FP7, including leading projects on mobility, spatio-temporal relations and long term autonomy (STRANDS), manipulation (PaCMan) and compliant and whole body control (CodyCo). The EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Intelligent Automation based at Loughborough and Cranfield Universities has the overall aim of researching the means of automating processes that are currently considered to be difficult to automate, and in doing so reducing product variability and quality issues that sometimes arise from human involvement.
The Centre has expertise within manufacturing automation, engineering knowledge generation and management in both manufacturing and human factors. The Centre has extensive experience in the establishment and execution of multidisciplinary initiatives with industry.
The MTC’s objective is to work with its research partners to develop and demonstrate innovative manufacturing technologies from academic solutions to production ready solutions that allow industrial companies to bring about major improvements in their competitiveness.
The MTC’s Intelligent Automation team draws on over 200 man years of industrial automation experience across a wide range of industries. Through the combination of manufacturing, automation, controls and design engineers, MTC takes an innovative yet realistic approach to manufacturing automation challenges. Recent examples of this work include the lead demonstration work package of the FP7 LOCOMACHS project, advanced industrial robotic controls (including ROS-Industrial), metrology assisted robotics to increase overall manufactured accuracy and the application of robotics to complex fabrications and assembly tasks.
MTC has over GBP 5 million of industrial scale automation hardware for development and demonstration work. The Birmingham IRLab has expertise in robot vision (Leonardis), task planning (Hawes, Wyatt), motor learning and multi-contact control (Mistry), software architectures for robotics (Hawes, Wyatt), manipulation (Wyatt), and machine and robot learning (Mistry, Wyatt, Hawes, Leonardis). The Intelligent Robotics Lab will draw on its experience in building systems that perform task planning for mobility, grasping, tracking and human robot interaction (Burbridge, Hawes, Zito, Wyatt). The lab has a substantial code base for mobility and manipulation, which is used across multiple projects, including several pieces of software for integration (CAST, GOLEM) that are used beyond Birmingham. The laboratory has significant experience in working with ROS, with designing integration frameworks linked with ROS, and in leading projects involving large scale software integration for autonomy. The EPSRC CIM-IA brings together a leading range of academics and PhD students with expertise in a number of key automation fields. These include vision guided calibration of pick up and drop off positions through the use of stereo vision technologies, the detection of objects of different colours and trajectories allowing the dynamic adjustment of pick and place paths, the detection of relative positions between objects allowing for them to be assembled together and the synchronisation of robot and object movement to pick up (including from a randomly moving vehicle).