It is been 3 years of intensive research in the COROMA project, funded by the Horizon 2020 program of the European commission.
The final meeting of COROMA was performed in Brussels in October 2019. Now the project has reached the end, project partners had the opportunity to show the review team the numerous developments carried out throughout these 3-years and the final results obtained, especially in its last part, when demonstrators were set up, and full functionality tested. Exploitation of results had also a main role in the review meeting, which ended with a presentation of the work done in communication and dissemination of results.
This initiative has focused on three main sectors (Aerospace, Energy and Naval), giving them innovative answers to the practical problems of the manufacturing of metal and composite parts via the use of a cognitively enhanced robotic system. The new intelligent industrial robot concept developed within the COROMA European project framework allows multiple processes to be carried out for the manufacture of metal and composite material parts. Higher levels of productivity, flexibility and automation, a reduction in both costs and programming times and an increase in efficiency are some of the results obtained.
The so called COROMA system has adopted a modular approach, based of functional components responsible for providing the answer to specific manufacturing phases: part location, identification, measurement, communication with other machines, path programming and adaptation, inspection, safety interaction with humans… all in a mobile and autonomous robotic system.
Aerospace sector provided COROMA project with manufacturing tasks oriented to the finishing grinding of metal parts, as well as drilling and milling of thin walls workpieces. The solutions developed for finishing operations included the use of automatic systems for part localization and measuring, and the generation of machining programs adapted both to the wearing state of the grinding tool and the need of re-machining of specific sectors of the piece. Drilling operations performance has been increased by the use of chatter vibrations detection algorithms, and of an intelligent system for prediction and selection of stable cutting conditions. Milling of thin walls has been achieved with the use of the robot as a mobile fixturing system, supporting the workpiece with a force-control strategy.
Naval sector use case provided a totally different scenario, with big workpieces, boat moulds, that have to be sanded to be used afterwards in boat production. Mobility of the COROMA system, AGV-based for this purpose, is fundamental for sailing the workshop and reaching all the sectors of the workpiece to be machined. Scene understanding functionality allows the identification of the mould in the workshop, while safety module detects the presence of operators and makes possible the reaction of the system avoiding any damage to the human. Path automatic reprograming takes control when recalculating sanding path after the robot repositions in order to continue with the machining task. Chatter vibrations are also a problem here, when trimming and drilling a boat hull section made of composite: COROMA includes a chatter detection system that allows a drastic reduction in the number of workpieces damaged in production.
Finally, Energy sector has been represented in COROMA by nuclear industry. The machining of weld unions of thin-wall workpieces has being solved by the integration of inspection and machining capabilities in COROMA robotic system. In both cases, robot movement automatic path programming is a must, and it takes into account the deviation of the scanned workpiece from nominal dimensions. Again sensing, programming and machining are coordinated for good results in the deburring of square section tubes, another application of COROMA. Defects in metal parts are detected using NDT techniques, integrated in the robotic system together with a neural-network based strategy to reduce the time dedicated to inspection.
Results in all industrial scenarios have shown an improvement in productivity and flexibility, reducing the adaptation costs in the manufacturing of new workpieces, increasing the automation level, and reducing the programming time in all cases. The aim of this initiative was to design a new intelligent modular and flexible industrial robot concept with the capability to carry out multiple processes for manufacturing metal and composite material parts in different sectors. The results have led to significant progress in advanced manufacturing and the tests carried out have proven its success.
Additional work has been done in COROMA in areas than can be applied to any manufacturing scenario, as the development of a procedure to identify the robot’s stiffness, proposed as a CEN Workshop Agreement oriented to future industrial standards; or the development of a smart system providing functionality for real-time machine-robot cooperation; or the use of a robotic hand tested in different tasks, as the flexible grasping of sensors to carry out the inspection of a workpiece; or finally the implementation of gesture recognition capabilities that allows the robotic system to execute machining operations directly ordered by the gesturing of an expert operator.