Themes

Industrial Robotics

  • Human-Robot Interface: To reduce the setup time of robotic automation through fast and intuitive programming methodologies. In addition, to handle uncertainties of work pieces and task, and accuracy of path execution.
  • Hybrid Force-motion Control: To develop reliable control methodologies for demanding force-interaction task and a unified control framework for macro-mini robotic system implementation.
  • Manipulator & Sub-system Design: To enhance the performance and dexterity of system through the development of self-contained robotic sub-system and eventually a dynamically optimal robotic system.
Research Relevance

The major research efforts of the IR theme are to develop the key technologies to extend industrial robot applications from the conventional positioning operations to demanding contact-type operations through enhanced force control.  In addition, by making them easier to teach and program for continuous paths, more accurate through effective self-calibration and error compensation techniques.

Approach
  • Human-robot interface: High-mix, low-volume operations have always been a challenge for automation.  Robotic systems are always perceived a promising solution to automate such operations. However, the existing teaching and programming interfaces used in industrial robots are inconvenient and time-consuming. To overcome such a problem, a multi-sensor guided intuitive robot teaching and programming approach will be investigated through sensor fusion and augmented environment techniques.   Alternative programming method such as robot programming by demonstration is also explored.  The research challenge in this area is in human posture/skill extraction and translation of this information to robot path.  Another industry problem in robot programming is the geometrical inaccuracy of work pieces, commonly found in MRO and remanufacturing.  Hence the above programming approach should also incorporate robot accuracy enhancement capabilities to carry out feature-based localisation of work piece or some self-calibrating methodologies to handle work piece discrepancy.

 

  • Hybrid force-motion control: Force-motion control is not a new topic.  However, many of such fundamental control schemes are inadequate to achieve robust force and motion control under demanding force-interaction task.   This is due to the fact that many unmodelled dynamics in the operations are not taken into considerations.  Such unmodelled dynamics include spindle or tool inertia mass, vibration during material removal tasks and impact due to tool initial contact with work piece.   In order for the force-motion control to be ready for industry implementation, advanced and reliable control scheme is needed to handle these dynamics.   Due to the previous work in an add-on end-effector module for industrial robots, it is essential to develop a unified control framework for a macro-mini robotic setup. 

 

  • Manipulator and sub-system design: The existing industrial robots are essentially designed for positioning applications without considering force control requirements. As a result, it is very difficult to achieve ideal force control performance due to hardware limitations.  To resolve this problem, a practical approach is to investigate the end-effector design so as to achieve high-performance localized force control.  Furthermore, this is the most feasible approach to realise the in-house developed control schemes, as existing commercial robotic system or machines are usually very limited in terms of implementing low-level control.   The vision of this research track is to design and build a dynamically optimal industrial robot.  Thus, the team will further investigate the integrated mechatronic design approach for joints and manipulators. The ultimate goal is to develop the next-generation industrial robots for demanding force-controlled applications.
Expertise
  • Sensor-guided intuitive robot teaching and programming
  • CAD-model based continuous tool path planning and rapid robot programming
  • Robot calibration, workpiece localisation, and error compensation
  • End-effector modules for localized force control and coarse-fine motion control
  • Hybrid force and motion control for contact-type operations
  • System identification and dynamic control of robotic systems
  • Design and integration of robotic automation workcells
Research Showcases