Human Robot Collaboration

 Hybrid Assembly Cell

Traditional industrial robots imposed safety risks to humans, so physical separation had to be maintained between humans and robots. This was typically accomplished by putting the robot in a cage. This made it very difficult to design work cells where humans and robots could collaborate effectively.

Recently, several advances have been made in industrial robots that make them safer for humans and hence presenting an opportunity for creating hybrid work cells, where humans and robots can collaborate in close physical proximities.

Industrial robotic manipulators are very good at performing highly repetitive tasks (e.g., assembly, welding, painting, etc.). On the other hand, humans are really good at dexterous tasks, perception, and ability to cope with contingencies. In this work, we plan to develop a hybrid assembly cell where the humans can help robots in the assembly task as well as resolve contingencies when encountered.

The video shows an assembly operation in a hybrid work cell involving three 6-DOF robotic manipulators (UR5) and a human operator. The human operator collaborates with second robot (in center) to finish the assembly task that requires tying an elastic band to hold the spring in place. Also, the human operator helps the first and second robot in resolving its contingencies.