Towards implementing collaborative robots within the automotive industry
Abstract: Collaborative robots have many advantages and have proven to be useful, although there are still currently very few actual implementations of collaborative robots on the industrial shop-floors. One major reason for this is the high safety requirements within the industry and the difficulties to fulfil current safety regulations when using collaborative robots. The purpose of this thesis is to identify the most important safety aspects in collaborative robot applications and to discuss how different solutions can aid in fulfilling current safety regulations. In order to fulfil the purpose, a physical demonstrator will be developed in collaboration with Volvo Cars Engine that can be used for evaluation and testing. To investigate what the general opinion of the automotive industries thoughts are on collaborative robots, a questionnaire based survey was conducted with 143 participants. The survey result show that the majority thinks that collaborative robots can benefit them in their own work, and that assembly- and material handling tasks is well suited applications for collaborative robots. The literature review of the thesis project is focused on collaborative robot safety peripherals for minimizing injury by collisions, but also to investigate other related work with collaborative robots. Input from the survey and the literature review clarifies the problem at hand and tentative idea of a physical demonstrator is suggested. The demonstrator which resembles an industrial assembly station with bolt tightening, has been created using a light weight structure UR10 robot from Universal Robots. Together with the operator, a work sequences was proposed for both the human and the robot, and once implemented, three optional scenarios where recorded for evaluation. By observing the recordings it is identified that a seamless workflow can be achieved even though the robot and human works in the same area and on the same work piece. Other benefits include improved ergonomics and reduction of operator physical fatigue. To evaluate the demonstrator further, experiments with test- and control groups were proposed as future work.
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