Humanoid robots will free up highly skilled workers to perform higher, value-added tasks
Airbus Group Innovations (AGI), the research and technology network of Airbus Group, has launched a joint robotics research programme with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).
The programme will be dedicated to the research and development of humanoid robotic technology to perform complex manufacturing tasks in factories.
The majority of research will be conducted at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (JRL), which was established in 2004 on the AIST campus in Tsukuba, Japan.
Sébastien Remy, head of AGI, said: “The use of robotics has become ubiquitous in our industry. Both AIST and CNRS researchers are at the cutting edge of humanoid robotics research, and we are excited about the opportunity to meld our expertise with theirs on the further development of this key technology for manufacturing.”
Airbus Group and the CNRS-AIST JRL are also collaborating on COMANOID, a four-year research project launched in early 2015 as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, which aims at deploying humanoid robots to achieve non-added value tasks that have been identified by Airbus Group in civilian airliner assembly operations.
Introducing this technology into aeronautical assembly lines is expected to support human operators in performing the most tedious and physically demanding parts of the manufacturing process, freeing up highly skilled workers to perform higher, value-added tasks. Designing robots with a humanoid form will enhance both their dexterity and versatility, making them suitable for tackling a large range of tasks in a variety of environments – all without having to make significant changes to manufacturing processes originally designed for humans.
Realising viable humanoid robotics will require researchers to develop new algorithms in multi-contact planning and control to give robots the sort of human ‘hand-eye coordination’ that will allow them to function effectively in confined and poorly accessible spaces. These algorithms will be tested on a set of use-cases drawn from different Airbus Group divisions and plants, in which the realism and complexity will be increased every year.