Flexible product testing using an articulated robot system equipped with a real - time force and torque sensor
Abstract: Car manufacturers have traditionally tested new productsusing intricate, but not very flexible, mechanical devices. The test methods have been designed to check that e.g. the user interfaces and controls work properly in various kinds of climates and environments and have a life expectancy that is adequate. It has however been difficult to test that the controls have the desired feeling. As of today the only way of testing the feeling of a control is to let a test panel, consisting of a couple of persons, operate it and report the feeling. This will result in a very subjective statement that will highly depend on the test persons. The term feeling is difficult to define, but two natural properties of feeling are the force andtorquerequired to operate the control. The objective of this master thesis wasto develop and evaluate a flexible, objective and standardized method to measure force and torque during product testing, using an articulated robot system equipped with a force and torque sensor. A couple of ordinary electrical push buttons and rotary switches were selected to represent the various types of controls. A test method comprising the robot system, software with graphical user interface and various control systemswere developed. Several tests were performed on the selected test objects. The results demonstrated that it was possible to measure the force and the torque required to operate the push buttons and rotary switches and that they displayed unique profiles. It was also possible to measure the required energy to operate the controls. The results were repeatable over time and showed little variance. From the performed tests and result analysis, it was concluded that it is possible to measure the test objects as desired with a flexible, objective and standardized method using the articulated robot system equipped with a force and torque sensor. Test objects can be measured and compared to standard objects, which have a desired feeling and the test method has the potential to replace current subjective product tests and improve the development and testing of user interfaces in cars.
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