Intelligent Material Delivery to Improve Human-Robot Workflow in Assembly Manufacturing

Manufacturing represents a quarter of all employment in the US. To reshore jobs, improve operations, and recruit, retain, and retrain skilled workers, companies are increasingly using robotics technology. Ideally, robots will not replace humans but team with them to improve productivity. However, most industrial robots are poorly integrated into human workflow, causing expensive work stoppage problems ($1.7M per hour), worker stress, and talent loss. The research goal of this project is to address this problem by designing novel methods to improve human-robot workflow and productivity in assembly manufacturing through the use of an intelligent material delivery system (IMDS), which will closely integrate with and support the manual work process. This project will investigate innovative, multi-disciplinary approaches to this research area, dramatically advancing the state-of-the art in smart manufacturing and human-centered robotics.