EPSRC project: Self-learning robotics for industrial contact-rich tasks (ATARI): enabling smart learning in automated disassembly
Disassembly is an essential operation in many industrial activities including repair, remanufacturing and recycling. Disassembly tends to be manually carried out - it is labour intensive and usually inefficient.
Disassembly requires high-level dexterity in manipulations and thereby can be more difficult to robotise in comparison to the tasks that have no physical contacts (e.g. computer visual inspection) or simple contacts (e.g. cutting, welding, pick-and-place). Robotic disassembly has the potential to improve the productivity of repair, remanufacturing, recycling, all of which have been recognised as key components of a more circular economy.
The existing procedure and state-of-the-art techniques for disassembly automation usually require a comprehensive analysis of a disassembly task, correct design of sensing and compliance facilities, efficient task plans, and a reliable system integration. It is usually a complex, expensive and time-consuming process to implement a robotic disassembly system.
This project will develop a self-learning mechanism to allow robots to learn disassembly tasks and the respective control strategies autonomously, by combining multidimensional sensing and machine learning techniques. This capability will help build a more plug-and-play disassembly automation system, and reduce the technical difficulties and the implementation costs of disassembly automation.
It is expected the next generation industrial robotics can be adopted in more complex and uncertain tasks such as maintenance, cleaning, repair, remanufacturing and recycling, where many processes are contact-rich. Disassembly is a typical contact-rich task. It is envisaged that self-learning robotic disassembly will provide key understandings and technologies that can be adopted to the automation of other types of contact-rich tasks in the future to encourage a wider adoption of robots in the UK industry.