Charleston, SC March 11, 2015
Robotic Floor Buffer Demonstrated
Robotic Technologies of Tennessee (RTT) released the results of Phase 1 of its grant titled High Mobility Manufacturing Robot (HMMR) for Ship Compartments at NSRP’s All Panels Meeting held March 10 – 12, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina. RTT exhibited a robotic floor buffing system capable of buffing steel ship compartments without the need for human workers. The robotic system operates on its own. It uses laser systems and software for tracking and route strategies.
“Mobile robots are cleaning the floors of millions of homes,” says Steve Glovsky, Executive Vice President of RTT. “We want to apply this kind of technology to doing work in ship compartments. Think of it as a kind of industrial Roomba type buffing system for steel floors.”
Robots For Work In Ship Compartments
The Navy spends millions of man hours performing work in enclosed ship compartments. This work is among the most labor intensive, dangerous and least touched by automation as any performed. This work depends on highly skill laborers to perform much of the manufacturing tasks primarily in a manual fashion. While this workforce is highly skilled in their craft, many of the productivity enhancements associated with new technologies in robotics, embedded processing and software applications have not been applicable to this group. RTTs HMMR hopes to augment existing compartment workers and significantly improve productivity and safety.
“Robotic work in an enclosed ship compartment requires a lot of sophisticated technology,” says Dr. Jamie Beard, President of RTT. “Our systems have to know where they are, what they’re supposed to do, what they’ve done, what’s around them, how to maneuver over obstacles, how to climb, how to manipulate attachments and how to diagnose their health. It’s a really big challenge.”
Part of Project to Develop Proof of Concept Naval Ship Compartment Robot
The project is structured in three phases to progressively develop and test needed technologies. Phase 1 involves surface prep on compartment floors with minimal operator input; Phase 2 involves mechanized fillet welding on panel lines using stiffeners; and Phase 3 involves remote operation of surface prep activities (e.g., blasting, painting, etc.) in confined compartments.
Professor Stephen Canfield, RTT Founder, says, “This project leverages the recent explosion in ultra-low-cost lidar systems with robust localization through Kalman filtering on a ROS-enabled platform to demonstrate a system that is cost competitive and readily reproducible.”
See video of laser location and travel test here.
Press coverage here: http://www.maritime-executive.com/article/high-mobility-coating-welding-robot-tested
RTT designs, builds and sells mobile inspecting and manufacturing platforms. When mounted with manufacturing or inspecting tools, these systems deliver the benefits of factory automation to non-factory environments. RTT systems operate in a variety of environments including shipyards, tank terminals and wind farms. Applications include welding, inspection, cutting and grinding. Field fabricators and inspectors can save up to 80% when compared to manual alternatives. RTT systems are operating throughout the United States and around the world meeting challenging weather, operator and fabrication conditions. RTT patented and patent pending technologies are novel solutions for bringing automated and robotic systems to the $10 billion plus welding and inspection industry.