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Innovative Manufacturing CRC Celebrations

The Innovative Manufacturing CRC (IMCRC) is coming to a close at the end of the year and to celebrate, they held a project showcase to highlight the successful outcomes of over 40 collaborative manufacturing R&D projects they have funded over the years.

Our researchers, Mats Isaksson and Jared Donovan were in attendance to celebrate the IMCRC’s achievements and showcase the outcomes of the projects they led through the IMCRC.

🌟 Jared Donovan from QUT (Queensland University of Technology) led the “Design Robotics for mass custom

Jared Donovan

isation manufacturing” project which was a collaboration between UAP | Urban Art ProjectsQUT (Queensland University of Technology) and RMIT University. The project used innovative robotic vision systems and software user-interfaces to reduce the integration time between design and custom manufacturing. The team integrated the systems with industrial robots and improved the manufacture of high-value, complex products in time and cost.

The project also won the CRC Association’s 2020 Award for Excellence and led to the formation of our industry partner, ARM Hub (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing).
Other Australian Cobotics Centre researchers involved in the project included: Glenda CaldwellJonathan RobertsCori Stewart and many more!

Mats Isaksson

🌟 Mats Isaksson from Swinburne University of Technology led the Tradiebot project which was an industry collaboration with Tradiebot , supported by AMA Group. The project used 3D printing technologies in conjunction with novel polymer material solutions to enable a low cost rapid repair service for automotive plastic trim and assembly components.

In plastic repairs for automotive collision repair services, the ability to rapidly manufacture an integrated replacement part directly on the damaged component will reduce repair cost, time, waste and environmental impact.

Read more about the projects:
🤖 Design Robotics: https://lnkd.in/ghzGcu6D
🚗 Tradiebot: https://lnkd.in/gavUsx5m

QUT’s Design Robotics Team wins AFR Industry Engagement award

Jared Donovan

Congratulations to QUT’s Design Robotics team for winning The Australian Financial Review‘s Higher Education Award in the Industry Engagement category.

The IMCRC project, led by Australian Cobotics Centre program co-lead, Jared Donovan and included Glenda Caldwell, Cori Stewart, Jonathan Roberts and more.

The project was a collaboration between UAP | Urban Art Projects,  QUT (Queensland University of Technology) and RMIT University. With the support of IMCRC, UAP invested in robotic vision systems and developed smart user-interfaces that enabled them to manufacture bespoke artwork and architecture pieces here in Australia.

Read more about the research collaboration here: https://lnkd.in/gaDp_Ys2

Read the article here: 20221104 – AFR – Design Robotics Award article

Teresa Vidal-Calleja – 2022 Women in Robotics you need to know about

Congratulations to our Research Program co-Lead, Teresa Vidal Calleja who has been named as one of 2022’s Women in Robotics You Need to Know About.

Teresa leads the Biomimic Cobots program in the Centre with Mats Isaksson. The goal of the program is to allow collaborative robots to mimic humans in acquiring perception and awareness, learning, adaptation, and manipulation skills.

The 2022 list, produced by Women in Robotics, covers the globe, with the chosen ones having nationalities from the EU, UK, USA, Australia, China, Turkey, India and Kenya. A number of women come from influential companies that are household names such as NASA, ABB, GE, Toyota and the Wall Street Journal.

As the number of women on the list grows so does the combined global impact of their efforts, increasing the visibility of women in the field who may otherwise go unrecognised. This list is published to overcome the unconscious perception that women aren’t making significant contributions.

Check out the full list here: https://lnkd.in/gKwWGUZd

Congratulations to Dr Penny Williams on her ARC DECRA grant

Penny WilliamsDr Penny Williams has been awarded an ARC DECRA grant for her project ‘Automated People Management: When algorithms manage employees’.

The $458,798 project aims to explain the impact of technologies that automate people management. The three-year project is expected to commence in early 2023. We congratulate Penny on this tremendous recognition.

 

Read more: DECRA grant success – Dr Penny Williams – Centre for Decent Work & Industry (qut.edu.au)

Highly commended award for Dr Muge Belek Fialho Teixeira

MugeFialhTeixeira_HCAssociate Investigator, Dr Muge Belek Fialho Teixeira was highly commended in the Digital Mover and Shaker Award category at the recent 2022 Women in Technology awards held in Brisbane on 16th September.

As a design lead in ARM Hub, her research projects include mass customised, advanced manufactured, and technology embedded aged care furniture; customized and 3d printed assistive technologies for people with spinal cord injuries; sustainable fenders for marine environments; and AR/VR adoption in Architecture Engineering and Construction(AEC) industries.

Some of the Australian Cobotics Centre and ARM Hub team went along to support Muge and celebrate the achievements of all the women who were nominated.

The annual WiT Awards celebrate excellence and recognise the valuable contribution of women and champions of change from across Queensland’s STEM community.

Check out the full list of winners here: 2022 Award Winners – Women in Technology (wit.org.au)

New PhD scholarship with CSIRO available

We are pleased to announce a new scholarship for the Centre that is funded by and also a part of CSIRO’s Collaborative Intelligence Future Science Platform. 

The Collaborative Intelligence Future Science Platform develops the science that enables human intelligence and technology to work together across multiple domains, driving sustainable productivity growth and improving both the quantity and quality of jobs for human workers.

The PhD project will conduct research into collaboration between humans and robots (or AI more generally), focusing on the impact that these collaborations have on the human’s experience of work. This impact may be both positive and negative since the collaboration allows each actor to achieve more than either could alone but also changes the role of the human worker. In addition, we need to consider work design principles, since the transformative potential of collaborative intelligence will only be realised if organisational functions and processes are adapted to reflect these new ways of working.

The project, entitled “Collaborative robots and humans’ work: human skills, attitudes and potential for motivation”, will conduct research in human-robots collaboration, in particular in the design of collaborative  robots to improve the motivating potential of work for humans and the transformative potential of artificial  intelligence and connective technology.

The project will develop tools, methodologies and processes required to integrate artificial and human intelligence and produce appropriate workflows and designs which could have a transformative impact across a wide range of industries and domains. The research will provide a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of the workforce uplift that is required to realise the transformative potential of collaborative intelligence and robots.

The Phd Project will conduct research into collaboration between humans and robots (or AI more generally), focusing on the impact that these collaborations have on the motivating potential of work for humans and the skills needed by human workers.

The use of collaborative robots has the potential to affect the human’s experience of work in both positive and negative ways since the collaboration allows each actor to achieve more than either could alone but also changes the role of the human worker.  In addition, the transformative potential of artificial intelligence and connective technology is only realised when organisational functions and processes are adapted to reflect these new ways of working.

The project will be part of CSIRO’s Collaborative Intelligence Future Science Platform that will develop the science that enables human intelligence and technology to work together across multiple domains, driving sustainable productivity growth and improving both the quantity and quality of jobs for human workers. The project will develop tools, methodologies and processes required to integrate artificial and human intelligence and produce appropriate workflows and designs which could have a transformative impact across a wide range of industries and domains. The research will provide a more comprehensive and detailed understanding of the workforce uplift that is required to realise the transformative potential of collaborative intelligence and robots.

Scholarship details

  • A scholarship, tax exempt and indexed annually, from $34,013 per annum for a period of 3 years will be provided to the successful applicant with four weeks paid leave per year included.
  • the researcher will be based at CSIRO and QUT
  • the student will be enrolled at QUT and must meet QUT’s eligibility requirements

How to apply

Submit an EOI via our page if you are interested

Our first year: Industry placements

Continuing our celebration of 1 year in operation, today we are looking at one of the key elements of the Centre – the 12 month industry placement that our postdocs and PhD researchers are required to completed during their time with the Centre.

Industry placements for our researchers are critical for the success of the Centre. Our aim is to transform Australian Manufacturing through the implementation of cobotics and, to do this, we need to understand the physical environment and constraints that our industry partners have, in order to co-design solutions that meet their needs.

All of our PhD and Postdoctoral Research Fellows will complete a total of 12 months at our industry partners over their time with the Centre. To maximise the experience and gain exposure to many different manufacturing operations and ways of working, our researchers will complete the placement across multiple industry partners and at various points throughout their time with the Centre.

Our postdoctoral researcher, Fred Sukkar, from the Biomimic Cobots program, has been a regular visitor to our Industry partner, InfraBuild, since he started with the Centre in February. We asked Fred to share some details about what he’s being doing and how he’s benefitted from working on-site at InfraBuild.

1. What are the benefits of having an industry partner linked to your research?

Having an industry partner to collaborate with is beneficial because it provides the opportunity to work on interesting research problems while having a tangible real world application of that research. For me its a great way to apply and build on my current research which focuses on giving Cobots the intelligence to carry out valuable and practical work through clever algorithms that take inspiration from the way humans carry out jobs. Another great benefit is having access to resources, such as experts in the field and a manufacturing plant test bed, that you don’t usually get in the lab.

2. What have you learnt by working with and visiting Infrabuild?

I have learnt a lot about the steel bar manufacturing process by seeing it in person at the steel mill at Rooty Hill, NSW and chatting with various workers there. I’ll be sitting inside the control room coding or looking at sensor data and workers will regularly rotate in and out. Everyone is always interested in what I’m doing and keen to give me a run down of how everything works. I have even got a lot of valuable insights and advice on how to solve the problem. The workers have a lot of first hand experience and understand different aspects of the system better than we do, so leveraging that has been invaluable.

3.  How do you approach working with different roles in the company?

Communication is the most important factor to consider when approaching people in different roles. Determining what is the necessary information to convey and conveying it in an easy to understand way is challenging but absolutely necessary in order to not overwhelm people and ensure everyone is on the same page. I found this to be really important during the project with Infrabuild because you interact with so many different people with varying backgrounds and technical skills. I have also found it necessary to constantly adapt over the project depending on the outcomes or, for example, due to people becoming more familiar with the project.

Meer our E.P.I.C. Researchers: Associate Professor Mats Isaksson

Recently we interviewed one of our E.P.I.C. researchers from Swinburne University of Technology, Associate Professor Mats Isaksson, co-Lead of the ‘‘Biomimic Cobots‘ program in the Centre. Mats shared some of his career highlights so far, and a little about his many different research roles!

Tell us a bit about yourself and your research with the Centre? Include the long term impact of what you are doing

I grew up in the north of Sweden, close to the Arctic Circle. It is an interesting place where the sun never sets in the summers (and hardly rises in the winters). I did my undergraduate and MsC at Lund University, specialising in Automatic Control. After finishing my MsC in 1997, I began working for the motion control department at ABB Robotics in Sweden.

After 10 years at ABB Robotics, Sweden, I relocated to Newcastle, Australia. After working for my own IT company for a year, I was contacted by Boeing who together with ABB offered me a very generous opportunity for a PhD candidature. The PhD project targeted investigating the feasibility of a novel parallel kinematic robots for aerospace applications and was carried out at the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research (IISR) at Deakin University in Geelong.

After finishing my PhD, I worked for three years at IISR before starting at Swinburne in 2016. I am currently an A/Prof at the Department of Mechanical and Product Design Engineering where I am the unit convenor for Control Engineering. I am also the program leader of the Intelligent Robotics Program at the Manufacturing Futures Institute and the manager of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, which I founded in 2021. Having an industrial background, I have always focused on industry collaborations and during my last three years at Swinburne I have been awarded above $12M in funding for such projects.

 

Why did you decide to be a part of the Australian Cobotics Centre?

Currently, my main research focus is medical robotics and I am working with Cambridge Medical Robotics and Mulgrave Hospital on projects targeting the ergonomic benefits of robot-assisted laparoscopic surgery. I am also the principal supervisor for three PhD candidates whose projects target the use of collaborative robots in medical applications. One project is a collaboration with Baker Heart Institute targeting the use of collaborative robots for teleoperation of heart ultrasound examinations. I am also researching and developing systems for autonomous ultrasound examinations, robotic photobiomodulation therapy, and skin cancer detection. As so much of what I am doing involve collaborative robots and industry collaborations, becoming a member of the centre was a perfect fit for me. I am very excited about learning from colleagues in this field and supporting the robotization of Australian industry.

 

What project are you most proud of throughout your career and why?

One of my longest and most interesting projects during my time at ABB Robotics was to develop robot force control functionality. The entire project, from low-level control loops to designing a user interface, were done by myself and one other colleague. This was quite satisfying as in a large company you typically only provide one piece of the puzzle. As far as I know, ABB was the first company including force control functionality in their industrial robots, which enables lead-teach programming and advanced assembly and machining applications. I am also very proud of leading the IMCRC Tradiebot project where a small team integrated 3D scanning, 3D printing, advanced robotics, and the development of a novel polypropylene composite filament, to build a fully working prototype for automatic repair of car headlights.

 

What do you hope the long-term impact of your work will be?

Although some larger Australian companies are in the frontline of robotics integration, the general impression I get when visiting industries is that the level of automation is low compared to northern Europe. This is particularly true for SMEs. Although the increased safety of cobots makes them faster to commission, developing a cobot cell still requires significant know-how. My hope is that the Cobotics Centre can contribute in developing methods that reduce the requirement for expert knowledge and traditional programming skills when developing a cobot cell.

 

Aside from your research, what topic could you give an hour-long presentation on with little to no preparation?

I can talk about many things such as being bitten by sharks and attacked by Cassowaries but not sure if anyone would care to listen 😊

 

Mats is also the Research Lead for the Intelligent Robotics program at Swinburne’s Manufacturing Futures Research Institute.

Our first year: Cobotic Welding

Centre Chief Investigator, Prof Will Browne is leading a cobotic welding project with two of his undergraduate students and the Centre’s Engineers from QUT’s Research Engineering Facility (REF).

The project is highlighting the accuracy of cobots in welding using the Soldamatic (Weld Australia’s Welding training simulator) and Augmented Reality, where cobotics reduce the risk to safety and waste of materials.

The Soldamatic system is used during training to evaluate the effectiveness of welders before they move onto real welding equipment. The first stage of the project involved using a program interface that allowed the cobot to successfully simulate the same welding tasks that trainee welders are required to pass. The second stage of the project is still underway and involves the completion of a welding task that is usually completed by experienced welders. This will provide a quantifiable demonstration of a robotic welding capabilities to potential adopters.

The project is a collaboration with Weld Australia, QUT (especially QUT’s Centre for Robotics) and the ARM Hub. Weld provide the Soldamatic AR station (https://www.soldamatic.com/welding-simulator/), QUT provide the advanced Robotics programming for the cobotics arm (and the researchers/students working on the project) and ARM Hub the integration/facilities to realise the project.

This project could lead to further research around specific welding capabilities and improving quality assurance and compliance in welding.

Key Challenges

  • In more complex welding, the skill of the human is in identifying where they need to weld, which varies according to the task. The challenge is in providing a ‘path’ that shows the cobot where to weld.

Benefits

  • Gives organisations and experienced welders confidence in cobots completing the same tasks in a safe environment
  • Cobots provide a way of increasing automation across the industry in response to labour shortages and increased investment in infrastructure

Next stages

  • The next phase of the project could include AR technology instead of the Soldamatic system to evaluate whether the proposed weld is accurate.

Our first year: Shorts Project

Continuing our celebration of 1 year in operation, today we are looking at one of the first projects of the Centre – the Shorts project with InfraBuild. The project is just about to complete its first phase in which a proof of concept has been completed.

The “Shorts” project with Infrabuild aims to improve the health and safety of steel factory workers by utilising a Cobot (collaborative robot) to remove off-spec steel bars from the production line. Currently, a worker performs this job which requires repetitively monitoring and throwing fast moving, heavy, hot steel bars off of a conveyor which poses an inherent risk of injury.

Infrabuild’s production line is unique, in that they produce a wide range of steel bars with different shapes and sizes. While this makes them unique capability-wise globally, current off-the-shelf solutions for automating this detection and removal process cannot deal with the variety of bars. Hence, our researchers and engineers are aiming to develop a flexible system using a Cobot with inbuilt and external sensors that shifts away from traditional automation approaches and can adapt to the different steel bars that they manufacture – even new ones in the future – while working safely around workers.

The project had two distinct phases of initial work to prove that a cobot could complete the task:

  1. The identification of the shortest bar in the group via an automated system
  2. The use of a cobot to remove the bar from a moving conveyor belt

Benefits

  • providing safer working environment for their staff by removing humans from the dangerous part of the process
  • potential for higher production efficiency as the system can run at all hours

Project Team

  • Andrew Thomas, InfraBuild
  • Mark Christianson, InfraBuild
  • Fred Sukkar, Australian Cobotics Centre Postdoctoral Research Fellow (UTS)
  • Dasun Gunasinghe, Australian Cobotics Centre Lead Engineer (QUT)
  • Gavin Suddrey, Australian Cobotics Centre Engineer (QUT)
  • Teresa Vidal-Calleja, Australian Cobotics Centre Research Program Lead (UTS)
  • Jonathan Roberts, Australian Cobotics Centre Director