Imagine that your factory had self-repairing robots that could perform all their own maintenance and repairs. They carried out a daily maintenance routine to minimize errors and downtime. They identified problems before they occurred, and corrected the issue. These robots would also build upon themselves for extra functionality to carry out different tasks — they could increase carrying capacity, lifting power, accuracy, or safety.
If this sounds like science fiction, that’s because it is. We’re still decades away from truly self-repairing and self-augmenting robots. However, researchers are making strides in the this area of robotics.
Robots perform autonomous maintenance
IEEE Spectrum reported on a robot that has the ability to make its own repairs and modifications. Researchers from the University of Tokyo demonstrated their self-repairing Willow Garage PR2 robot at the 2019 IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots in Toronto, Canada.
Researchers programmed the robot to identify and tighten loose screws. The robot can also make modifications and improvements by adding attachments such as hooks for additional carrying capacity.
The robot identifies the general position of the loose screw either by itself or with the help from a human. It then calculates the precise location with self CAD data. Next, the robot plans the correct tightening motion using graph research. Finally, the robot tightens the screw.
The robot can’t sense that a particular screw is loose. Instead, it detects when something is awry and runs automated checks. Alternatively, a human can point out which screw needs tightening, and the robot will perform the necessary maintenance.
Proof of concept for self-repairing robots
It’s a stretch to call this a self-repairing robot. If a servo fails or an actuator is damaged, there’s nothing that the robot can do to improve the situation. However, it’s a great start.
Even a self-maintaining robot would provide significant benefit in a factory setting. Factory robots could run through a daily maintenance check and tighten bolts and screws to exact torque specifications, which could help prevent errors and downtime.
It would be great if your Indramat machinery could make its own repairs, but it can’t. Fortunately, we can assist you with that. We specialize in Indramat motion control systems. Call us at 479-422-0390 for troubleshooting support, preventive maintenance and inspection, retrofitting, on-site support, Indramat replacement, and Indramat factory repairs services.