Aviation is a far less robotic than the automotive sector. The large size equipment, and the limited series produced in limited the impact of Robotics in a few specific tasks. Nevertheless, in its trade with the Americans, Europe and any struggle particularly Airbus should increase further production to not leave filer commands at rival Boeing. Robotics or more precisely cobotique, these robots to work with humans, is one of the studied solutions. VALERI research project is designed to validate the concept in the workshops of Airbus and its subcontractors. The cobots should invade the workshops in October 2015.
A research project conducted by the Germany
Named VALERI for Validation of Advanced, Collaborative Robotics for Industrial Applications, research on the cobots in aeronautics program is led by the Fraunhofer Institute. Funded to the tune of 3.6 million euros by the European Union involves two manufacturers Airbus DS and its supplier ranking 1 FACC AG, as well as IDPSA, Prodintec Robotics experts, Profactor GmbH as well as the manufacturer of KUKA robots. The latter have developed omniRob, a mobile robot on 12 axes. A robotic arm capable of moving in the Assembly workshop of a plane and able to stand high to intervene on the massive fuselage of an A380, for example.
One problem: the coexistence of the robots with workers
The first application in the workshops of Airbus studied in this project will be the installation of coating on the joints. The robot must be able to move only in the Assembly hall to accomplish its task. It must therefore detect humans and react accordingly in order not to hurt. It must therefore begin to implement the first law of Asimov, it means do not injure a human being. The omniRob is therefore equipped with detectors to locate humans around him, but also a ‘skin’ artificial. This is what enables the robot to detect contact and stop if it comes to reach an operator.
The publication of the results of this experiment are expected by June 2015.
“Robots lending a helping hand to build Airbus planes”, EU press release, August 20, 2014
“Mobile Robots Support Airplane Manufacturers”, Fraunhofer press release, April 1st, 2014