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EL Highlights October 2013

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Programmatic/Technical Accomplishment

EL Establishes Manufacturing Robotics Testbed
In response to increased industry needs and changes in U.S. manufacturing, the NIST Engineering Laboratory has established a robotics testbed to develop measurement science for next-generation manufacturing. The testbed includes – a KUKA Light Weight Robot (safe robot arm with seven degrees of freedom, a Baxter robot (two-armed robot intended for safe human-robot interaction, two dexterous robotic hands (fully-actuated 3-fingered hand and a partially-actuated hand), and an Automatic Guided Vehicle (AGV) with both a standard industry controller and a research interface. The robot testbed is being used to conduct research on human-robot collaboration, flexible ways of gripping and manipulating objects, and performance of mobile robots where a robotic arm is mounted on the AGV. Robot safety is a major research area, with standards for safe operation of both robots and AGVs near people.

With help from SURF and SHIP students this past summer, a number of test methods and metrics have already been developed for grasping with the dexterous robotic hands, including in-hand manipulation and force-based manipulation. A set of modular assembly artifacts was designed and fabricated to evaluate the force-based control characteristics of the robotic arms using NIST-defined test metrics. A keynote talk at the NIST SURF colloquium addressed recent progress on the characterization and coordination of heterogeneous robot motions, aimed at making it easier to integrate robots from different manufacturers into the same application.  Recent technical papers describe proposed metrics for modeling and evaluating collisions in robotic manipulation, the history of risk assessment for human-robot collaborations, and present an ontology-driven methodology for performing task decompositions and risk assessments of human-robot collaborative tasks in manufacturing environments. Other AGV measurement science research is focused on safety and performance of new capabilities, such as automatic obstacle detection and avoidance.

Contacts:  Mike Shneier, (301) 975-3421; Elena Messina, (301) 975-3510

Interactions

EL’s Domanski speaks at the China Sustainable Refrigeration Summit 2013
EL’s Piotr Domanski was an invited speaker at the China Sustainable Refrigeration Summit 2013 (Beijing, October 24-25, 2013). Sustainable development of the refrigeration sector is of great importance because of its considerable energy use, potential refrigerant emissions, and its high growth rate in developing countries (exceeding the growth rate of their gross domestic product (GDP)).  The Summit’s agenda focused on energy-efficient refrigeration technologies, refrigerants with low global warming potential (GWP), and policy initiatives related to climate change.  This agenda reflects the requirement facing the refrigeration industry to convert to low-GWP technologies due to imminent international regulations phasing down currently used high-GWP hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) refrigerants.  Domanski’s presentation entitled “Transition to Low-GWP Refrigerants: Opportunities, Challenges and Tradeoffs” summarized recent results of a joint EL and MML project (M. McLinden and A. Kazakov).  The Summit was organized under sponsorship of the Chinese Association of Refrigeration and several global refrigeration companies.

Contact: P. Domanski, (301) 975-5877


EL Keynote Links Composites Manufacturing to Sustainability

In a keynote address delivered at the Advanced Production Management Systems Conference held at Penn State University, September 9-12, 2013, EL’s Dr. Vijay Srinivasan linked manufacturing of composite structures to sustainability. He drew examples from aerospace and automotive industries to illustrate how the focus on fuel efficiency had driven manufacturers to use structures made up of lightweight, composite materials. Renewable energy from windmills has necessitated the manufacturing of large turbine blades, now made of composites. Also, intermittent energy storage by flywheels has given a boost to strong, lightweight composite materials. Srinivasan explained how NIST is contributing to the industrial need in this field through ISO standards for exchanging complex composite geometric and material data. He also outlined new research NIST has undertaken to support interoperability of engineering information systems for composites manufacturing using a query mechanism. Dr. Vijay Srinivasan is Chief of the Systems Integration Division in the Engineering Laboratory.

Contact: Vijay Srinivasan, (301) 975-3508