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Humans and robots working in harmony at Ford Cologne factory

by • July 14, 2016 • No Comments

Used in the right way, robots they have the future to manufacture life much simpler for humans on a production line, but most factory robots don’t have the faculty to stop or subtly adjust their motion, so anyone who gets in the way is at risk of injury. Ford thinks it is discovered a way around this problem, and is putting humans side-by-side with robots in its Cologne factory to validate its approach.

  • The robots are being utilized to help with shock absorber fitment
  • The springs are being attached to a Fiesta in Cologne
  • The robots sense human contact, and stop their movement to preserve the workers
  • Yes, this is staged for the cameras. We're looking forward to seeing the

To begin with, Ford’s new robots are being utilized to fit shock absorbers to Fiestas. Rather than forcing an assembly line worker to manipulate a heavy shock absorber above their head, workers can use the robots to lift and position the part, preceding finishing the operation with the hustle of a button.

“Working overhead with heavy air-powered tools is a tough job which requires durablity, stamina, and accuracy. The robot is a real help,” says Ngali Bongongo, production worker at Ford’s Cologne plant.

As you’d hope, the robots have been programmed to be conservative when it comes to human contact. If an arm or finger gets in the way, sensors can detect the obstruction and the machine stops moving to preserve the worker.

Ford’s sense-and-stop process is one of most processs being created to manufacture robot and human collaboration less dangerous. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute, for example, have been working on a soft-actuator enabling robots to “give” if they manufacture contact with a worker, while MIT researchers have employed “cross-training” techniques which see robots and humans swap jobs so they can see things of the others’ point of view and carry out tasks additional efficiently when working together.

The future step for Ford involves exploring how far the innovation can be hustleed, looking for other tasks where collaborative robots can be employed on their assembly line.

Source: Ford

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