Human-robot collaboration, robot-assisted disassembly
Robotix Academy is a European Union-funded cross-border research cluster with five universities, institutes and companies, and several industrial strategic partners, says Professor Wolfgang Gerke, Trier University of Applied Sciences. The development of new concepts for the collaboration of humans and robots in remanufacturing disassembly processes is the main task of the Trier University of Applied Sciences with the environmental campus at Birkenfeld.
Fully automated disassembly lines are - compared to assembly lines - rare. One reason is that disassembling at the end of a product lifetime is much harder to automatise than assembling. At present, disassembly tasks are executed mostly manually. We are investigating a new concept for the disassembly of electric and mechanical parts with collaborative robot assistance systems: this uses a disassembly graph for the product with the automatic generation of a task schedule, describing tasks for human and robot. Human-robot communication is achieved by gestures, speech or haptic methods.
In a five-year industrial financed research project with SEW Eurodrive, the economical disassembly of a mechatronic gearmotor - with a weight of about 25 kg - was investigated in detail. The company especially wants to reuse the rotor of the electric motor fitted with high-energy magnets, which consists of rare earth materials. Lightweight assistant robots with specially designed tools, safety-sensors and 3D vision systems were programmed and integrated in a disassembly testbed to demonstrate the collaboration work.