A Portuguese team develops a painting robot that collaborates with humans
17th October 2019
With the development of this technology, the robot and the human operator paint the given component at the same time, therefore, nullifying the need for the robot to be isolated in a traditional robotic cell, protected by physical barriers that did not allow the collaboration in painting.
With a funding of approximately EUR 200.000 from the European Commission's Horizon 2020 research and development programme, the Institute for Systems and Computer Engineering, Technology and Science (INESC TEC) and the Portuguese company TALUS were able to develop a new collaborative robotic cell.
“Before starting the coating process, the operator teaches the robot how to paint by demonstrating it. During the painting process, a 3D vision sensor examines, recognises and locates the object to be painted and corrects the trajectory of the robot that was previously taught. In addition to this, there is also a system that monitors a number of hazardous areas that detect intrusions to the robot's workspace, allowing the human operator and the robot to work in a collaborative way. There is also a secure monitoring system that allows the human operator to indicate the restart of the process in an ergonomic way, ”explains Rafael Arrais, researcher of INESC TEC's Centre for Robotics and Intelligent Systems.
In order to develop the robot, the researchers used an automatic decision platform developed in the HORSE project, funded by the European Commission, which selects the appropriate coating program, allowing the human operator to monitor the different parts of the process.
The collaborative robotic cell developed in the FLEXCoating project has already been successfully tested at the Portuguese company FLUPOL, a Portuguese SME specialised in functional application of coatings, and will contribute to increased efficiency and flexibility in the production process, with an estimated increase in the production capacity of around 15% and a 10% optimisation of the operators' working time due to the collaboration with the painting robot.
The operation of the collaborative robotic cell developed in the FLEXCoating project can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWhkrRbPB_o&feature=youtu.be .
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