Towards Tool-Support for Robot-Assisted Product Creation in Fab Labs
Collaborative robot-assisted production has great potential for high variety low volume production lines. These type of production lines are common in both personal fabrication settings as well as in several types of flexible production lines. Moreover, many assembly tasks are in fact hard to complete by a single user or a single robot, and benefit greatly from a fluent collaboration between both. However, programming such systems is cumbersome, given the wide variation of tasks and the complexity of instructing a robot how it should move and operate in collaboration with a human user.
In this paper we explore the case of collaborative assembly for personal fabrication. Based on a CAD model of the envisioned product, our software analyzes how this can be composed from a set of standardized pieces and suggests a series of collaborative assembly steps to complete the product. The proposed tool removes the need for the end-user to perform additional programming of the robot. We use a low-cost robot setup that is accessible and usable for typical personal fabrication activities in Fab Labs and Makerspaces. Participants in a first experimental study testified that our approach leads to a fluent collaborative assembly process. Based on this preliminary evaluation, we present next steps and potential implications.
KeywordsHuman-robot collaboration Toolkit End-user development
This research was partially supported by Flanders Make, the strategic research centre for the manufacturing industry. We thank the reviewers for their constructive comments.
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