INDUSTRIAL ROBOTS TOPIC GROUP

The Topic Group “Industrial Robots” (TG-IR) aims to foster the dialogue between industry, academia and applied research through focused input on the field of industrial robots. This input effectively defines and prioritizes the research and innovation topics most relevant to industrial robots. Considered to be a “mature” field within the realm of robotics, new developments in industrial robots are strongly driven by the current market situation. Industrial robots are currently important components in large-scale industrial manufacturing and are used predominately by large-sized companies. The main applications carried out with industrial robots are in production and include a wide range of tasks ranging from welding, painting, to part handling and machine tending. Recent developments in collaborative applications and crossover of service type and mobile robotics into industrial applications starts redefining the traditional Industrial Robotics landscape.

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The following is a non-exhaustive list of expected impacts on domains and products by improvements to technologies as suggested by this topic group: 

      • To stimulate academic and industrial research and development in the areas identified by evolving market requirements and in the areas opened up by new technology capabilities to make more effective use of public funds and generate added value for European stakeholders.  
      • To apply industrial robots to new assembly, manufacturing and machining applications, in existing and new domains and markets to stimulate growth in the robotics industry. 
      • To apply new concepts from the fields of AI and cognitive robotics, application planning, and control to increased robustness and resilience of production towards uncertainties and to support automatic error recovery and automatic correction capabilities. This leads to improvements in quality and in higher productivity gains and reduced down times. 
      • To allow for flexible and effective transition between manual and fully-automated production through new methodologies such as scalable degree of automation, and to develop methodologies for choosing the economically best mix of manual work and automated production steps.  This also includes transition from ‘rigid’ specialized high-productivity automation towards smaller-volume automated systems focused on versatility and flexibility.
      • To achieve a close-to-reality-simulation model as an engineering platform and database for the overall product and production lifecycle to simplify virtual commissioning and therefore reduce the time-to-market for industrial production solutions. 
      • To improve system intelligence, usability, and ease of tool chain integration through simulation and engineering tools for offline programming and virtual commissioning. This increases the performance in engineering processes as problems with lost information or dealing with inconsistencies are reduced. This also implies improvements in standardization for improved reusability. 
      • To improve the mechanics of industrial robots through either new kinematical structures or the development in real industrial environments of promising robot technologies (parallel kinematics robots, cable robots, etc.). These new or enhanced architectures widen the area of robot applications and are one possibility to increase robot sales figures.
      • To improve energy efficiency of industrial robots through new use concepts. This is of high importance to handle future challenges concerning limited resources and environmental concerns. 
      • To allow for easily deployable, reconfigurable, adaptive kinematic topologies and methodologies to choose between the optimal properties for the application at hand. 
      • To improve the integration (lower engineering costs, faster commissioning cycles) of high-quality components and devices into optimized production systems. This includes the integration of peripheral devices such as tools, sensors, and feeding and sorting devices. 
      • To improve the flexibility and reusability for other applications/new models/variants. This includes ease of use in re-deployment, configuration, calibration, programming, and tuning, and also encompasses improvements in HMI. This is one significant approach to reduce costs in engineering and automation processes and to bring new production scenarios into operation as fast and efficiently as possible.
      • To ease the safe deployment of robotic technologies by supporting, whenever possible, standardization and regulation, as well as fostering public and industrial acceptance. This includes supporting novel safety validation and risk assessment techniques. 
      • To support initiatives regarding robotics in education. Motivated and well-informed researchers are necessary for continuous innovations in robotics, and focused and relevant educational efforts are the basis for encouraging new-comers to the field of engineering and for maintaining a sufficient pool of qualified personnel in the future.  

Industrial Robots Topic Group Coordinators

José Saenz

Karol Janik

José Saenz

Fraunhofer IFF

Email:jose.saenz[at]iff.fraunhofer.de

Karol Janik

Karol Janik is a Robotics, Automation & Mechatronics Technology Manager focusing on the adoption of robotics, automation, and intelligent systems in manufacturing and challenging environments. For the last years at the Manufacturing Technology Centre in the UK, he has been working in Industrial Research and Development across various sectors, including aerospace, space, defence, agritech, nuclear, and general manufacturing. He leads various projects focusing on solutions development and adoption of robotic teleoperation in nuclear and pharmaceutical sectors including the development of bespoke robotic systems. 

Email:karol.janik [at] the-mtc [dot] org