Advances in automation have provided for sustained productivity increases and manufacturing growth over the past decade. Sustaining this growth will require automation to become more agile and flexible, enabling the automation of tasks that require a high degree of human dexterity and the ability to react to unforeseen circumstances. Applying robots is one promising approach, but their traditional program-by-teaching model takes considerable time, requires extensive expertise, and does not lend itself to tasks that require adaptability. This has limited robots to high-volume, repetitive operations and precluded them from low-volume, time critical, and flexible projects. Off-line programming of robots is possible, similar to the computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) method widely used for machine tools. However, the poor accuracy of robots compared with machine tools limits them to jobs with low tolerance requirements, or requires additional methods such as calibration, modeling, and external sensing to improve their accuracy. These methods increase the upfront cost of a robotic system. However, advances and cost reduction in sensing technologies (especially laser scanning) have brought robot systems into the price range of even small-to-medium enterprises. In addition, use of end-of-arm tools (EOAT) has given integrators the ability to provide faster turnaround time and utilize the same infrastructure in a high-mix, low-volume environment.
This special issue will address approaches that will allow robotic systems of tomorrow to be capable and flexible. This includes approaches that will allow robots to be quickly re-tasked to other operations, and cope with a wide variety of unexpected environmental and operational changes. For the purpose of this special issue, we refer to this as agility. Key areas of robot agility include:
The ability of a robot to be rapidly re-tasked without the need to shut down the robot for an extended period of time when a new operation needs to be performed,
The ability of a robot to recover from errors, so that when a part is dropped, for example, the robot can assess the situation and determine the best way to proceed to accomplish the goal,
The ability to quickly swap in and out robots from different manufacturers so that a company is not tied to a single robot brand,
The ability for a robot to respond to changing environmental conditions, for example, when a part is not in the precise location the robot anticipated.
Also within scope are ways to measure how agile a robot is. This could include test methods to assess how well a robot can adapt to a changing environment, in which parts are dropped or are in wrong locations or when tasks suddenly change. Other topics of interest include metrics to capture the key attributes to assess agility, whether it be time, accuracy, cost, or some combination of factors.
Papers are solicited for this special issue on the following topics (or on related topics not listed below):
Artificial Intelligence approaches applied to robot agility
Robot agility through knowledge-based approaches
Unique planning approaches to enable robot agility
Test methods to assess the agility of robots in industrial applications
Metrics to quantify robot agility
Approaches to failure identification and recovery in a manufacturing process
Techniques for robot integration and interoperability while fulfilling an industrial task
Unique approaches to robot re-tasking, without the need for human intervention
Techniques for a multi-robot system to optimize a production flow in a factory according to a dynamic order schedule
Dr. Craig Schlenoff, National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), USA
Dr. Zeid Kootbally, University of Southern California (USC), USA
Dr. Erez Karpas, Technion, Israel Institute of Technology, Israel
We invite you to contribute with original manuscripts based on your research related to the above-mentioned topics to this upcoming special issue. If you are interested in submitting, please contact the managing guest editor at firstname.lastname@example.org to express your intent.
Submission Deadline: 1st September 2020
Acceptance Deadline: 1st December 2020
The authors will submit their papers to the Elsevier Editorial System (EES). The authors’ guidelines can be found at: http://www.elsevier.com/journals/robotics-and-computer-integrated-manufacturing/0736-5845/guide-for-authors. Please indicate that you are submitting to the “Agile Robotics for Industrial Applications” Special Issue in your cover letter.