On Distributed Knowledge Bases for Robotized Small-Batch Assembly

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The flexibility demands in manufacturing are severe, e.g., for rapid-change-over to new product variants, while robots are flexible machines that potentially can be adapted to a large variety of production tasks. Task definitions such as explicit robot programs are hardly reusable from an application point-of-view. To improve the situation, a knowledge-based approach exploiting distributed declarative information and cloud computing offers many possibilities for knowledge exchange and reuse, and it has the potential to facilitate new business models for industrial solutions. However, there are many unresolved questions yet, e.g., those related to reliability, consistency, or legal responsibility. To investigate some of these issues, different knowledge-based architectures have been prototyped and evaluated by confronting the solution candidates with key application demands. The conclusion is that distributed cloud-based approaches offer many possibilities, but there is still a need for further research and better infrastructure before this approach can become industrially attractive. Note to Practitioners-It is possible to extend the capabilities of a robot system by providing online services. An example of such a service is an online library of robot applications, an app store, where robot programs can be downloaded and installed on the system with little effort from the user. Another is text analysis, that requires heavy computations but can provide a more natural user interaction. Experiences from several European projects with the goal to simplify robot usage/programming have resulted in a number of insights around the core challenges. For instance, providing application libraries in a traditional software sense is too limited when considering the necessary management of uncertainty (including human interaction, configuration of sensing, and learning). Robot programs are therefore better represented as distributable and compositional knowledge, together with supporting computational services. Since robot programming is time consuming and requires expertise, thus expensive, there is a need for good services that simplify this process. We see a need for coherent APIs in existing robot programming tools such that the desired app store can be added to the back-end of existing solutions.
Sidor (från-till)519-528
TidskriftIEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering
StatusPublished - 2015

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