Introduction that prevents avoidance of collisions both with

Introduction

Automotive
manufacturing car industry is undergoing major changes and transformations.
Digitization introduced new technologies; manufactured products are demanded to
produce in an increasing number of variants while the workforce’s average age
is shifted by the demographic change. All of these factors are important
drivers for creating workplaces where human and robot work together which based
on the Industry 4.0 concept. On the other hand, the field of human-robot
collaboration has experienced a significant increase of interest in the past
years, first from the research community and as well from the industrial
community. The reason lies in key enabling this new technology appearing on the
market, probably most importantly a new generation of lightweight robots which
incorporate different concepts (control software or mechatronic design) allow
to interact with humans while ensuring a certain degree of safety.

Human beings
remain at the center of production. The crucial point is to achieve open
communication and simple integration. A factory staffed by robots alone will
remain an illusion, even in the smart factory. People will remain the central
focus. However, robots will make people’s jobs less arduous, will support
people and give them entirely new capabilities.

In this context, without doubt, human-robot
collaboration will play a key role in Industry 4.0 – not only directly as part
of modern production, but as data gatherers that can communicate all relevant
information to IT systems in real time if required. This means the current work
aims at integrating current technologies in different areas to create an
innovative robotic system for a safe and intuitive human-robot collaboration.
With multi-sensor-based workspace, they make it possible to automate delicate
assembly tasks in the first place. If unexpected contact is made, robots will
reduce their speed and thus the kinetic energy to an extent that prevents
avoidance of collisions both with itself and with external objects. In
addition, a set of whole-body controllers is used as building block that
describes single actions of a high- level robot behavior plan. Finally, a
modular, robot- agnostic software control framework was used to seamlessly bind
all components together and allow reusing generic software components to
describe a variety of complex manipulation behaviors, whilst keeping
independence from the particular robot hardware. When people and robots can
work safely together, many conventional safety precautions become superfluous. Additional
costs that would normally be required for safety technology and protective
fences can be dispensed with. Workers and robots can share the same workspace
without any concerns. In this way, expensive feed systems and production floor
space can be saved.

 

1.  
Human-robot
Collaboration (HRC)

According to KUKA Systems GmbH, human-robot
collaboration, which bases on a decisive principle of Industry 4.0, means human and robot work hand in hand, without
separation and without safety fencing. This means that the machine does not
replace the human, but complements his capabilities and relieves him of arduous
tasks. These can include overhead work, for example, or the lifting of heavy
loads.

 

1.1.       
Background of HRC

Based on the article “Collaboration,
Dialogue, and Human-robot Interaction” of Terrence
Fong, Charles Thorpe, and Charles Baur, the first
interaction between human and robot was since the 1940’s. In the beginning, the
interaction was primarily unidirectional: simple on-off controls or analog
joysticks for operating manipulator joints and remote vehicles. Over time, as
robot has become more intelligent, the communication between humans and robots
has become more and more like the relationship between two human beings rather than
the nature communication in the past, while human using robot as a passive hand
tool.

Nowadays, human-robot
interaction (HRI) is still relatively young concept that has attracted much
attention due to the increasing in availability of complex robots and the
publicity of such robot in daily life, e.g. as robotic toys, or household
appliances (robotic vacuum cleaners). Furthermore, robots are being
increasingly developed and applied in different areas, such as manufacture,
educational application, or eldercare.

Jim Lawton of
Rethink Robotics stated during an interview with David Greenfiled, there are
several factors that cause the rise in human-robot collaboration in recent
years, the most notable ones are:

–      
90%
of the tasks in manufacturing process have not been automated, because it is
not practical to do so with standard industrial robotics technology.

–      
Most
small to mid-sized manufacturers are out of the robotics loop due to the fact
that they often lack industrial robot programming knowledge

–      
Plus,
these smaller manufacturers typically perform widely varying job shop
production and therefore need robot to be flexible, something most industrial
robots does not easily provide.

 

1.2.       
The description of how HRC works

According
to Terrence Fong, Charles Thorpe, and Charles Baur, as a branch of knowledge,
human-robot collaboration (HRC) regarding analysis, design, modelling,
implementation, and evaluation of robots for human use. HRC is strongly related
to human-computer interaction (HCI) and human-machine interaction (HMI). However,
HRC concerns systems (i.e. robots) which have complex, dynamic control systems,
which exhibit autonomy and cognition, and also operate in changing real-world
environments, which differs itself from HCI and HMI. It is through direct
proximal interaction (e.g. physical contact) or through mediated practiced by a
user interface (“operator interface” or “control station”) that HRC may occur. “In
the latter case, the interface acts as a translator: it transforms human input
(from hand controllers or other control devices) to robot commands and provides
feedback via displays. When human and robot are separated by a barrier
(distance, time, etc.) and information is exchanged via a communication link, then
the interaction is called teleoperation”.

 

1.3.       
Human-robot
collaboration in manufacture

Because of the
affordability, highly adaptability, and plug-and-play possibility, small and
medium-sized manufacturers are eager to take on collaborative robots
technology. Thanks to the new advancement in robotic manufacture technology,
robot laborers are now able to be integrated into the work force to increase
efficiency and productivity, however, they are still challenged in planning and
scheduling along with the design of human-robot interaction.

The manufacture
environment has a lot of potential applications for collaborative robots (or
cobots), such as in an automobile manufacture plant. In some manufacture
processes, there are applications that make sense for workers to perform
manually tasks, in the others, the best option is overall automation. In these
situations, the cobot can handle certain physically demanding motions while the
human needs to see, feel, and react as needed. On the technical side, a cobot
can detect nonstandard activity in their work and limit its force that allows
close cooperation between human and robots without any physical separation.
There are variety of collaborative robots, from small table-top models to
robots capable of moving heavy loads, they all have force sensors in their
joints which stops their motion in case of an impact, which allow the robot to
operate at full speed without harmless.

Collaborative robots
are mobile, suitable for moving between working spaces. Most of them are easy
to program, just by using a smartphone or tablet. The collaborative robots are
designed to help, but not to replace the worker in manufacture.

 

2.  
German
car industry

2.1.       
Overview
of German car industry

2.1.1.  
History

The automotive
industry is the largest industry sector in Germany. It began to be inspired by
the British automotive industry in the late 1860s as the motor-car pioneers.
Later then, in the 1870s, Karl Benz and Nikolaus Otto independently developed a
four-stroke internal combustion engine, with Benz fitting his design to a coach
in 1887, which led to the modern-day motor car. By 1901, Germany was producing
about 900 cars a year and this number is still continuing to increase
throughout the period.

2.1.2.  
The development of German car industry

Between 1860s and 70s: The origins of
the automotive industry are rooted in the development of the gasoline engine.

Around 1750: 1st Industrial Revolution

Mechanical production systematically
using the power of water and steam

Around 1900: Power Revolution

Centralized electric power
infrastructure; mass production by division of labor

Around 1970: Digital Revolution

Digital computing and communication technology,
enhancing systems’ intelligence

Today: Information Revolution

Everybody and everything is networked
– networked information as a “huge brain”.

 

2.2.       
German
automotive industry nowadays and the challenges

The
German automotive industry has a head start when it comes to the
development of highly efficient combustion engines.  Up until now, it is being home to the modern
car, the German automobile industry is regarded as the most competitive and
innovative, and has the third highest car production in the world, and fourth
highest total motor vehicle production. With an annual output close to 6
million and a 35.6% share of the European Union (2008). Despite relatively high
wages, long vacations, and strong labor laws and regulations, Germany remains a
global leader in many manufacturing sectors. Last year, automotive and
industrial exports helped the country post a record trade surplus of 198.9
billion euros ($269 billion). One of the reasons for this achievement is
automation. Contemporary German auto manufacturing exploits advanced
manufacturing technologies to increase productivity and profits. However, there
are still some major challenges for the automobile industry, which can be
summed up as follows:

–         
Development
of efficient vehicles

–         
Development
of alternative propulsion concepts

–         
Retaining
the position of the German automobile industry as a technology leader and
manufacturer of premium products on the global market

–         
Complementing
the product portfolio with new micro and city car concepts.

–         
Penetrating
the growth markets in the BRICS countries and managing the crisis in Europe

–         
Reducing
the number of vehicle platforms in spite of continued differentiation of the
product portfolio

–         
Participation
in the introduction of new mobility concepts

 

2.3.       
Robots
in German car industry

It cannot be denied that robots have made
their biggest mark in the automotive world but it took decades of refinement to
get there. Today, having robots is vital if one wants to be competitive in
making automotive plants. Robots in modern world are getting more and more
sophisticated than ever. Many are semi-autonomous, with machine vision systems
can adapt easily to a changing environment. Some can even work side-by-side
with humans. All signs suggest a panorama where we find ourselves living in a
new industrial robot boom. Let take a look at Audi’s A3 body shop in Ingolstadt
where the robots numbers are roughly equal compare to the number of 800
employees. Their jobs are to undertake most of the heavy lifting, responsible
for potentially dangerous spot welding and bonding, as well as tediously
repetitive testing. To Bernd Mlekusch, head of technology development
production at Audi, the benefits of automation include much higher productivity
and reduced demand for untrained workers. At the same time, workers with more
training and greater specialization are increasingly needed, he says. The next
generation of robots to work alongside humans are likely to be even faster and
more powerful, making them considerably more useful but also necessitating more
sophisticated safety systems.

To sum up, robots were
utilized to reduce costs and increase production as they can do the job quicker
than their human counterpart, efficient in their jobs, offer more speed and
accuracy than the human workers, yet as time has gone by; they got good
savings, and higher quality, at the same time. The automotive industry observed
that it can and needed to utilize robots for quality and consistency. Robots
usually can be found in these applications that grabbed our attention such as
Robotic Painting, Robotic Vision, Collaborative Robots, Robotic Hand and
Collaborative Robotics.

 

3.  
Human-robot
collaboration in German car industry

3.1.       
State-of-the-art

3.2.       
A
case-study of HRC in German car industry (AUDI: KLARA Robot)

3.3.       
The
advantages and disadvantages of HRC in German car industry

Due
to the flexibility in manufacture of collaborative robots, human-robot
collaboration are being used widely in recent years, some analysts even expect
that this segment of robotics industrial will growth substantially in the
future.

“The
Boston Consulting Group predicts that investment in industrial robots will grow
10% each year for the next ten years in the world’s 25 biggest export nations,
when the robots will take over 23% of the manufacturing jobs.”

(Len
Calderone, 2016)

The
human-robot collaboration is making a big change in industrial production and
factory processing in the future. Since 2014, collaborative robots have been
greatly success and become more importance in various industries, especially in
automotive and electronics. In human-robot collaboration, both human and robot
can contribute their abilities on a production line and complement each other
while providing the flexibility and productivity, “the human operator controls
and monitors production, the robots perform the physically strenuous work.” (KUKA,
Human-robot Collaboration).

Thanks
to this combination, production activities of the companies over the world can
gain a lot of benefits, such as maximum flexibility in production, relief
employees by performing ergonomically unfavorable work, reduced risk of injury,
high-quality performance, and increased productivity. Human-robot collaboration
offers companies a very short return of investment, it also increases
efficiency in production by a large amount. Besides, it is
plug-and-play-friendly to user, and add great value to the companies as they
are replacing all the repetitive tasks. Another benefit of this collaboration
is that they can be afforded for a wide range of business sizes.

Most
collaborative robots have specific sensors that also to increase safety for
humans while conducting separated monitoring and continuously the speed.
Usually, these sensors are cameras, laser, or motion-captured sensor that can
generate 2D or 3D images. Traditionally, the collaborative robots are
programmed to work behind physical barriers, such as cages that used to stop
the robots when a human is nearby. Nowadays, the modern sensors not only show
the presence of humans but also their location. When the humans are in the
green zone, then the robots can work at a full speed, but the sensors will give
a warning; in the yellow zone, the robots will lower their speed, and in red
zone, when the workers get too close, it will completely stop. In this
situation, the robots will be programmed to move away from humans, or alter
their path to go around. (Figure.1)

Beside
the benefits of human-robot collaboration, there are also some off-sides that
should be mentioned. First of all, the increase in demand of human-robot
collaboration somehow causes an increase of unemployment rate. The unemployment
of a country rises as the whole work is done by the robots. The worker’s labors
is not really necessary anymore, hence reduces the chances of employment in
almost the industries. Secondly, the cost for these collaborative robots are
very high, that not every company can afford. Therefore, the companies who can
purchase for this technology have a great benefit for themselves, and the
others, who could not afford to pay, have to face a competition, that also
makes them fall behind, and have no place in the market. In addition, the high
cost of collaborative robot also cause an increase of financial budget than
what was expected. This problem can put a company into a great financial issue
that leads to a bankrupt, which is an unbearable loss. On the other hand, the
maintenance cost of these robots is also high. It is impossible for a company
to maintain the machines while it is under the pressure of the financial
problem. Beside the cost for installation and maintenance of the robots, the
company also need to pay for the cost to train the employees how to perform
different tasks with the help of robots. Employees will be trained to program
and interact with the new robotic machines. Normally, this will be time-consuming
and costly for the company to apply the new technology on large scale level. It
is also a disadvantage of human-robot collaboration. Moreover, the
collaborative robot itself can be a danger for the workers, although it was
equipped with the sensors. It is due to the fact that the robot is not
trustworthy as it does not possess the intelligence like human. The information
and tasks given to the robots through chips and programming are performed
anyway even if something wrong happens. Once those machines are damaged, the
whole company would be in chaos. Therefore, this is one of the drawbacks of the
installation of collaborative robots. Additionally, the electrical efficiency
of the robots is somewhat worth mentioning. Some robots are very energy-consumed
while some are more energy-waste-friendly. Huge consumption in energy means
huge rise in monthly payments. And not many companies would be willing to pay
for a surplus; therefore, energy efficient machines are more likely to be taken
into account before the company make a purchase.

With
regards to the information showed above, the benefits of human-robot
collaboration are very significant and far outweigh the drawbacks. In the near
future, the contribution of human-robot collaboration in the industrial
production as well as the economy would be drastically valuable to us. In the
nearest two decades, we have witnessed the increasing application of
human-robot collaboration in many different fields; however, mostly still
industrial manufacture. Therefore, it has become important step for us on our
way to develop our civilization as well as make this world a better place.

 

Conclusion

The
German automobile industry is the most competitive and innovative in the world
as it has the highest car production and the fourth highest total motor vehicle
production. Therefore, it requires an advance technology such as collaborative
robot, which can cooperate and assist worker. Due to the advantages of
human-robot collaboration being maximum flexibility in production, relief
employees by performing ergonomically unfavorable work, reduced risk of injury,
high-quality performance, and increased productivity, the car industry in
Germany can get a great number of benefits that will enhance the German
automotive industry in the near future. Beside these benefits, human-robot
collaboration still has its drawbacks such as the high cost in installation, maintenance,
and training for employees, the errors, which probably can happen, and the
waste of energy. However, as one of the advantages of human-robot collaboration
is productivity, so that the output of a company is much greater than the cost
for this technology. With the growth of technology, it is possible for us to
improve the collaborative robots in order to reduce maximum the errors in
operation. In the modern life, instead of using the old energies (e.g.
gasoline, oil, etc.), we now begin to use the green energies (e.g. solar
energy, wind energy, etc.) in our life. This means that the power consumption
of collaborative robots can be improved with these renewable energies, what
solves the energy problem for human-robot collaboration technology and makes it
more environment-friendly. As a conclusion, the human-robot collaboration is
worth implemented in different kind of businesses and manufactures.

 

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