Today, almost all factories use robots to a certain extent. In particular, automated assembly operations are common in modern manufacturing firms. However, current industrial applications require a pre-knowledge of assembly parts, their locations as well as the paths that they should follow during the assembly process.
This research introduces a remote assembly control system, which gives the operator access to the robot at any time and any location as long as there is an Internet access. In addition, the remote assembly control uses a user-friendly interface which is easy and quick to use. An operator does not need great knowledge before using the web portal for the remote assembly control. On the contrary, using robot programming software would require the operator spending more time to learn specific skills. The remote assembly is also useful in risky situations in which the operator must keep a distance from the work place of the robot.
The main objective of this project is to design a web-based system that can provide the ability for remote operators to assemble objects in a robotic cell using 3D models of those objects in a virtual environment. The system consists of an industrial robot and a network camera connected to an application server. Using the user interface and the camera, a remote operator can take some snapshots of the real objects in the robotic cell and the system will construct the 3D models of these objects. Consequently, the operator can assemble the real objects using the equivalent 3D models via an existing Wise-ShopFloor virtual environment.
The scope of the project includes:
- Capturing the real objects with a camera mounted beside the gripper of the robot. The position of the camera gives the system more flexibility for taking the snapshots from different angles.
- Analysing the snapshots using different filters in order to identify the silhouettes of the objects. These silhouettes will be labelled to help distinguishing the different objects.
- Constructing 3D models of the objects. This will be done by constructing pillars from the labelled silhouettes of the top view of the objects. These pillars will be trimmed with the silhouettes obtained from snapshots in different angles, until the pillars represent the objects with the needed accuracy.
- Integrating the models into the Wise-ShopFloor virtual environment. This environment can be executed in a web browser.
- Updating the objects in the virtual environment according to the assembly operations.
Since assembly only needs picking and placing objects, the image processing and the 3D modelling do not need as high quality as it would need for other tasks, such as welding. In addition, the operator may be anywhere as long as an Internet access is provided. The Internet connection does not need to be in broadband because the system consumes a limited bandwidth for receiving snapshots from the camera and sending assembly instructions to the robot.
The results of this project will allow the operator to work away from dangerous environments, therefore helping to improve safety. This research can also help improving the adaptability of industry in ad-hoc assembly operations. Besides, the use of the web for the remote assembly can save cost and time in operator training and special-purpose software purchasing. Remote assembly is expected to become an important research area with unlimited application potentials in the future in distributed manufacturing.
2012. , 64 p.