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June 19, 2015 | Safer collaborative robots for the factory of the future

The factory of the future will be home to more agile production systems in which collaborative robots will play an increasing role. But, to work safely with human operators, these robots must have particularly reliable control systems. CEA LIST researchers recently demonstrated the potential of the institute’s collaborative robot controller synthesis tools to fuel advances in cobot safety.

Collaborative robots, or cobots as they are commonly known, work as a team with a human operator, making tasks easier to perform so that the human operator can keep his or her attention where it is most crucial. For the team to be effective, cobot control systems have to meet particularly high demands for performance, stability, and safety. Ensuring robust, precise control while maintaining flexibility, transparency, and performance is a key challenge for the factory of the future.

Trial and error now a thing of the past

CEA LIST, a member of the Instituts Carnot network, has developed synthesis tools that respond to these challenges. Based on a nonsmooth optimization algorithm originally developed by France’s aerospace research institute ONERA, the synthesis tools provide fast, optimized configuration of controller parameters, regardless of the number of parameters or flexible modes. Configuration by trial-and-error is now a thing of the past: the controller gains are adjusted directly to the optimal setting.

The tools were successfully tested on a number of different controller adjustments, including an industrial cobot offering a force-amplification function.