Title: FACTOry Technologies for HUMans Safety

Area: 3 – Factories for the People

Call topic: 3.1 – Designing and carrying out of robotized systems able to cooperate with human operators

Coordinating Institute: IMM – Institute for Microelectronics and Microsystems (Rome)

Partnership:

  • ITIA – Institute of Industrial Technologies and Automation (Milan)
  • IMAMOTER – Institute for Agricultural and Earthmoving Machines (Ferrara)

Industrial Interest Group:

  • KUKA Roboter Italia S.p.A. (Rivoli (To))
  •  TexE srl – INNTEX Div. (FI)
  • ABB SpA – Robotics Division (Sesto S.G. (MI))

Abstract:  The aim of the project is related to the development of new technological solutions for the definition of a safer workplace in scenarios where human-robot interactions are requested. Nowadays, to face the new manufacturing challenges, smart factories must speed up their processes and, at the same time, demonstrate an extremely high degree of flexibility to reduce costs and time. This kind of issues can be solved only by the cooperation between humans and robots in a mixed human-robot working environment. Robots have the compelling advantage of spatial precision and repeatability as well as the capability of applying defined forces. Humans, on the other hand, are especially skilled at complex manipulations and adapting to changing task requirements. In this complicate scenario of co-shared workplace and continuous human-robot interaction, safety strategies are a key requirement to avoid possible injuries to humans or fatal accidents.

Keywords Physical human-robot safe interaction (pHRSI); workspace sharing; robot dependability; smart garments; proximity sensors; robotic wireless personal area network (RWPAN).

The topic addressed by the project FACTOTHUMS has been selected by NSERC-Automotive Partnership Canada in order to be included in the “Concurrent Call on Automotive Manufacturing R&D”, which was launched within the bilateral cooperation agreement signed by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and the National Research Council of Italy (CNR) (Memorandum of Understanding for Scholarly and Scientific Cooperation). This agreement aims at promoting cooperation between Italian and Canadian researchers through the financing of joint cooperation projects.

factothumsIdeas and solutions:

Workspace and task sharing in human-robot collaborative applications both require safety. An operator is set free to move and interact with robots, while is being tracked by sensors. Danger areas, where hazardous collisions could happen, are dynamically computed at runtime in the direction of motion. Robots will react by stooping in time before any possible contact.

Computing safety areas in real time enables an optimal use of the shop-floor space.

factothums-1By merging three concepts:

  • New wearable sensors
  • Innovative wireless communication protocol
  • Safe standard implementation

we realized the technologies underlying a safe fenceless scenario in which humans and robots can cooperate and work exploiting their peculiarity of flexibility and decision making for one side to precision and velocity from the other side.

Follow up:

FACTOTHUMS project has been selected to participate in a Canada-Italy Concurrent Call on Automotive Manufacturing R&D. The project was approved for funding and will last five years.

The aim of the project is to join the expertise of the Canadian teams with that acquired in the FACTOTHUMS’s activities, to create new concepts and safe interactions between humans and industrial robots in automotive factories.

In the consortium two Canadian industrial partner are involved: Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Williams and White Group.

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