Robotics

Robotic system will work with humans to inspect welds

Robotic system will work with ...
The system's finger-tracking tech is used to record the location of faulty welds
The system's finger-tracking tech is used to record the location of faulty welds
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The system's gesture-recognition interface
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The system's gesture-recognition interface
The system's finger-tracking tech is used to record the location of faulty welds
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The system's finger-tracking tech is used to record the location of faulty welds

Although many aspects of the automobile manufacturing process are now automated, the inspection of welds is still typically performed by humans. A new robotic system, being developed in Germany, should make the checking of those welds easier and more accurate than ever before.

Currently, individual automobile components have to be manually loaded onto a rotating apparatus, so they can be turned around and viewed from all angles. Even then, workers will often adopt awkward poses in order to see the welds, possibly leading to repetitive strain injuries.

Additionally, the amount of time allocated to both loading and then checking each part is limited, potentially causing workers to rush their inspections. What's more, because different workers may view the same welds from different angles, there's a lack of consistency in the process.

It was with these limitations in mind that the German government's EASY COHMO (Ergonomics Assistance Systems for Contactless Human-Machine Operation) project was initiated. Led by the Fraunhofer Institute for Telecommunications, the multi-group collaborative effort is tasked with developing a system in which a robotic arm will automatically pick components off the assembly line, then hold them up in front of a human inspector.

The system's gesture-recognition interface
The system's gesture-recognition interface

Utilizing voice commands, along with a gesture-recognition interface that's projected onto both the workbench and the part itself, that person will instruct the arm to position the component in exactly the right position for inspection of its welds. If there are any problems with the welds, those can likewise be logged via either gestures or voice, with their locations being recorded utilizing a finger-tracking system.

It is hoped that the setup will ultimately reduce worker injuries while also improving efficiency and reducing the amount of defects that are missed. Plans call for the technology to initially be integrated into the production facilities of project partner Volkswagen.

Source: Fraunhofer

3 comments
Wolf0579
More people out of work in pursuit of profit.
KADC
Frankly, I'm surprised it's taken this long to come up with this technology. I've worked at two Magna auto part plants and rushed inspections is a very generous description of what is primarily a theoretical practice. Parts requiring three separate signed inspections still get passed on with obvious visible defects. The monotony of line manufacturing is simply too tedious for even the best-intentioned workers to pay more than rudimentary attention to what they are doing for more than a few minutes before the mind wanders.
ljaques
Nah, Wolfy. Those displaced workers are reemployed by the robot factory building bots. In the meantime, we end up with better products which fail less often. Win/Win.