Intelligent exoskeleton based on human-robot interaction for manipulation of heavy goods in Europe’s factories of the future

Acronym:

Robo-Mate

Funding:

EC - FP7)

Duration:

09/2013 – 08/2016

Abstract

Workplace injuries cost European societies up to 4% of GNP. Over 25% of Europeans experience back injury due to work. Robots are traditionally inflexible to use for many manual handling tasks. The world robotics market is set to double to $66Bn pa in the next 15 years. Europe could corner the industrial collaborative human-robotic part of that market (currently Asia).

The goal of Robo-Mate is to apply an industry focus in developing a user-friendly intelligent cooperative light weight wearable human-robotic exoskeleton for manual handling work. It will be deployable within half a day and will not require task specific programming. Robo-Mate will be highly flexible and used directly in craft or mass production or in auxiliary processes.

Robo-Mate uses an iterative innovation process where design specifications are driven by industry requirements with a “needs pull” rather than a “technology push” approach. In use workers will “pilot” the device. Direct physical interaction using haptic technologies will be combined with perception enhancement using cognitive science programming paradigms to drive the exoskeleton.

Pilot implementation of Robo-Mate will take on two forms: The first will focus on manual handling in automobile manufacturing at Fiat and by the automotive supplier Compa, the second will focus on heavy manipulation tasks during end-of-life dismantling and maintenance at INDRA. Guedel will verify the Robo-Mate design for assembly issues.

The Robo-Mate consortium comprises 12 partners from 7 countries, including end-users from the automotive and dismantling industries, industrial robotics/technology developers, a robotics integrator and ergonomics research groups.

Benefits of Robo-Mate will be realised at European level through a stronger industrial robotics industry, at societal level through increased employment, at company level with increased productivity, and at citizen level with reduced back injuries. Results will be used in standards benchmarking.

Key Words:

Intelligent cooperative robotic systems, manipulator, exoskeleton, HMI, ergonomics, haptics, cognitive, mechatronics, human-robot interaction, flexible production, automotive, dismantling, assembly

Homepage:

Coordinator:

Prof. Dr.-Ing. Hans Wernher van de Venn
Zurich University of Applied Sciences
Opens window for sending emailwernher.vandevenn(at)zhaw.ch

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