Cobot Meets Makerspace: Democratization of collaborative robot technology in publicly accessible workshops
Despite their great potential and increasing sales, collaborative robots (Cobots) are currently only used in a very limited number of industrial applications. Reasons for this are the high safety requirements, comparatively slow movements of the robots in the safety fence and collaborative operation, and the corresponding limits of economic use. Also missing are intuitively usable tools for robot programming as well as documented use cases and best practice applications that can be easily transferred and used in industrial environments. Against this background, the project focuses on Austrian Makerspaces and FabLabs. These are publicly accessible workshops where people without special training (the so-called "makers") are provided with access to industrial machinery free of charge or for a fee. These workshops provide basic training for interested people, who are then left to work on their own with these machines. Makerspaces open up a protected space for creative technical task and solution finding for a wide interested audience of non-experts.
By introducing the Cobot technology into an Austrian Makerspace, the project addresses a range of problems in the field of intuitive robot programming, robot safety and knowledge acquisition from Cobot applications developed by interested laypersons. The creative energy of makers and the environment of the Makerspace allow for the reconceptualization of the Cobot as a tool and to reinvent its application possibilities. This reaches from the nature of robot programming to the ways human-robot collaborations are designed and combined with other tools and machines. The project outcomes include a new web-based, intuitive programming and simulation environment for Cobots, maintained and improved by the Maker community, and an online knowledge base of use cases and design patterns for human-cobot interaction in production. The aim is to transfer these results into industry, for example through their evaluation in the training center of an Austrian engine manufacturer and the establishment of contacts with other manufacturing companies.
- Financing agency: FFG (Austrian Research Promotion Agency)
- Call: FFG programme "Production of the Future"
- FFG Project number: 871459
- Project period: 04/2019 - 03/2022