- The goal is to provide robots with the intelligence they need to work in cooperation with workers without the need for physical barriers of protection.
- The collaborative robotics solution has been developed within the framework of the European Sharework project, led by the Eurecat technology center.
- Sharework seeks to innovate in the application of human-robot collaboration in the automotive, rail, metal, and capital goods manufacturing sectors.
The Eurecat technology center leads the Sharework robotics project, which has developed a new intelligent system for safe and ergonomic collaboration between robots and workers in industrial manufacturing processes, using artificial intelligence and process data analysis.
In particular, the project has developed flexible software consisting of 14 technology modules “to provide robots with the intelligence needed to work in cooperation with workers without the need for physical barriers of protection,” said the director of the Robotics and Automation Unit of Eurecat, Daniel Serrano.
The system “is able to understand the environment and human actions through a knowledge base and sensors, and make predictions of its future state”, as well as “make the robot act accordingly” with the ultimate goal of promoting collaborative work between operators and robots and, therefore, improve the ergonomics and well-being of operators and increase the productivity of the process”, explains the technical coordinator of the project and head of Collaborative Robotics of the Robotics and Automation Unit of Eurecat, Néstor García.
The tests of the concept of the Sharework system have been carried out in the laboratories of Eurecat, in Cerdanyola del Vallès, Catalonia; at STAM, Genoa, Italy; at the University of Brescia in Brescia, Italy, and at the University of Patras in Patras, Greece.
After a first validation in a controlled laboratory environment where workers of the end users of the project have been able to test the developed technologies, the tests are being carried out in the production and assembly plants of four industrial companies. Specifically, they take place at SEAT S.A., in Martorell; in GOIZPER, in the Basque Country; at ALSTOM, in Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, and at the CEMBRE facilities in Brescia.
The project has successfully tested the use of multiple cameras and sensors, intelligent data processing and the incorporation of augmented reality and speech and gesture recognition technology, in order to provide intelligence to the robots and adapt their work to the needs of the workers.
The development of the system also includes the continuous study of human factors, with the aim of adapting and improving user perception and increasing the level of acceptance of the new robotic solution by operators.
The Sharework project is fully funded by the European Commission and is being carried out in Spain, Italy, Luxembourg, France, Germany and Greece, with the aim that industries can have “a system for the implementation of collaborative robotics in the industry that allows to make industrial assembly processes safer and more efficient, putting the worker at the center and providing him with a system that helps him in the day-to-day tasks”, remarks the coordinator of the Sharework project, Simona Neri.
Implementation in four types of real industrial scenarios
In the current growth scenario of collaborative robotics, Sharework focuses on the application of collaboration between operators and robots in four types of real industrial scenarios in the sectors of the automotive, railway, metal and capital goods manufacturing.
The project, which began in November 2018 and will end on October 31, 2022, has a budget of 7.3 million euros and is part of the line “Transforming European Industry” of the Horizon 2020 call, which aims to implement innovative artificial intelligence technologies to enable the effective collaboration of robots with workers.
Sharework is carried out within a consortium of 15 partners, including 6 research institutions (Eurecat, Fraunhofer IWU, the National Research Council of Italy, the University of Patras, the University of Darmstadt and Rachth University in Aachen); 8 industrial partners, of which 4 are industrial companies (STRANE, STAM, INTRASOFT and MCM) and 4 end users (SEAT S.A., ALSTOM, CEMBRE and GOIZPER), in addition to a standardization body (UNE).