Focus of the project “ForTeRob” is force-sensitive processing of metal workpieces, namely beveling, grinding and polishing with different tools. Due to the uneven and inconsistent nature of the welding seams on the parts to handle, a purely positioning controlled work program for the robot often leaves many spots on the workpiece not satisfyingly handled, i.e. the welding seam is not grinded down completely or too deeply. This makes further manual finishing necessary, which is time and cost intensive.
Metal processing of this kind is an ideal candidate for a closed-loop force-sensitive solution for the handling manipulator. One goal of ForTeRob thus is development of innovative approaches for force-/torque-control, combining advantages of direct force control via motor currents with the safety advantages of indirect force control. While most force-controlled solutions nowadays employ a special force-/torque-sensor, another goal of the project is to also enable sensor-less force control for standard industrial manipulators, and to explore possible areas of application and the potential savings.
Besides force control, another important part of ForTeRob is to develop a telematic interface, enabling remote robotic experts to support the local staff in making modifications to processing programs, and to allow for remote monitoring of the execution of working cycles. To achieve this, first an evaluation of users and robot experts is conducted to derive the necessary functionality a telematic interface in this field has to provide. Special transmission methods, enabling fast and reliable transmission of the necessary datasets on the one hand while providing a reliable link to the robot control on the other hand, will be developed and investigated. Aside from monitoring the remote robot’s working cycles the teleoperator will also be able to remotely and force sensitively drive the robot, should the need arise. To enable an overview of the remote situation in the workcell and to allow for better and faster understanding of the transmitted robot data, an Augmented Reality interface will be integrated in the teleoperation user interface. After implementation of the support functions and an ergonomic front end, thorough user tests will be conducted to ensure the functionality of the developed solution.
ForTeRob is a joint research project; the academia part of the consortium consists of the centre of adaptive robotics (ZAR) of the Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg and the Hochschule Aschaffenburg (H-AB), the industrial part is represented by the renowned robotic manufacturer Reis Robotics and Metallbau Heidenau, contributing with expert knowledge, application scenario and user perspective. The project is supported by the Bayerische Forschungsstiftung (BFS).