Individualized manufacturing and shorter product life cycles are current trends that will significantly change industrial production. Autonomous and cognitive robotic systems are coming to the fore to support the necessary flexibility and mutability for the production of the future: Automated one-off manufacturing will become possible. The vision aims for ease of use and integration: In this context, DLR's Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics is developing robotic assembly systems that, on the one hand, require less expertise on the part of the users, but, on the other hand, are capable of manufacturing complex products and different variants thereof. The aim is to significantly reduce the effort required to implement new tasks. At the same time, the system should make the user's work easier by taking over planning tasks independently. In extreme cases, only the desired end product should be specified by the customer. This can be done, for example, via an interface for intuitive product configuration. Sophisticated planning algorithms then automatically create a sequence of assembly steps.
System with two lightweight robot arms for the flexible assembly of complex aluminum constructions.
The institute is researching various planning units and methods for reliable execution. Central to this are the flexibility and degree of autonomy of the robotic systems: an algorithm finds suitable assembly sequences that can be executed by the system. Methods for grasp planning, automatic analysis of reachability in the work cell and collision-free planning of movements make such systems particularly flexible - also with regard to different product variants. Adaptability to new tasks is central. The idea that the robot has capabilities that can be easily reused in different situations is implemented throughout, from planning to execution. In one application example, a robotic system assembles aluminum profiles into complex structures. The system can manufacture different products, which are configured via an easy-to-use tablet interface. The setup consists of two LBR iiwa lightweight robots from KUKA. Their special characteristics enable reliable execution, which is not even affected by uncertainties in the work cell. The integrated force sensor technology makes sensitive assembly possible. DLR is developing methods that exploit these fundamental properties of lightweight robots, for example, to make assembly tasks more robust against uncertainties and to execute them more efficiently.