PathPlan™ empowers industrial robots to do previously impossible tasks
MADISON, Ala. (Aug. 29, 2017)—Battelle has once again successfully proven its robotic collision avoidance software, PathPlan™, in a live demonstration on a life-size mock-up of an air inlet duct of a multi-million dollar military aircraft.
Most industrial robots are programmed to strictly follow motion sequences. They move only in a predefined path to perform the task and require careful programming to maneuver around any complex regions. When manufacturing or maintenance tasks are repetitive and straightforward, this approach makes sense. When tasks are less predictable or involve high risk components, the time and expertise required to precisely define and program the exact sequence of motions makes automating these tasks cost prohibitive, if not impossible.
One of the highest risk activities in robotics automation is commissioning a new robotic work cell. During this phase, operators must manually move the robot using a teach pendant. Because a human is directly controlling the robot during teach mode, there is very high risk of damaging the robot, tooling, or high-value workpiece. Damage to a high-value aircraft can cause expensive rework, recertification of the airframe, and costly disruptions to tight operating schedules.
Battelle’s PathPlan autonomous motion planning and collision avoidance software empowers industrial robots to do what has previously been impossible—safely automate the most challenging tasks within confined or hazardous spaces, complex environments, or with high-value workpieces.
A recent demonstration with Aerobotix, a robotic systems integrator that specializes in coating and sanding applications for military aircraft, utilized PathPlan’s Teach Mode Collision Avoidance component during manual operation of a robot maneuvering inside an S-shaped air inlet. The software provided protection for the robot, tooling, and aircraft by predicting the robot’s motion based on the operator’s interactions with the teach pendant. Whenever a future collision was predicted, the software slowed the robot, immediately alerted the operator and if necessary, completely halted the robot. Motion in any safe direction away from the collision was automatically enabled by the software to preclude the operator having to reset the teach pendant, as is frequently required with more rudimentary, zone-based methods.
“It’s extremely expensive to make mistakes in our line of work,” says Chris Kolb, VP of Business Development at Aerobotix. “If the skin of an aircraft is damaged during the coating phase, production must be stopped, the damage must be repaired, and the aircraft may require recertification. PathPlan avoided collisions in our tests, even when we actively tried to cause them.”
“It’s not a question of if a robot collision will happen, but when,” says Darren Krasny, Battelle industrial robotics lead. “Using heavy equipment in such close quarters to expensive components is dangerous. The PathPlan software is the best insurance policy available.”
The PathPlan software provides a full-featured collision avoidance suite with four components—Teach Mode Collision Avoidance, Pre-Screening, Safe Home Return and Run-Time Monitoring. It is available now as a retrofit to existing systems or as a new system add-on. Learn more here.
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