2/2015

Robots evolve into self-reliant team workers

Researchers at TUT have launched an exciting new project to develop a work site where multiple robots and autonomous machines work side by side without any direct human involvement.

Researchers from four departments across TUT have joined forces in an ambitious project titled ”Robotics and Intelligent Machines”. Their goal is to create a multi-robot, multi-machine environment where autonomous heavy mobile machines are capable of working in unison and self-diagnosing and resolving problems on their own and with the help of a movable robot platform.

”We want to see what happens when we pool our expertise on factory robotics, heavy mobile machines, flying drones, computer vision and machine learning. Will we be able to build an automatic robot-populated work site where robots can even repair one another?,” muses Joni Kämäräinen, Professor in the Department of Signal Processing.

Working together for a common goal

Robotics and Intelligent Machines

  • The first research project at TUT to receive TUT Flagship status.
  • The goal is to develop a multi-robot, multi-machine environment with autonomous machines working together.
  • Partners: the Departments of Intelligent Hydraulics and Automation, Mechanical Engineering and Industrial Systems, Signal Processing, and Automation Science and Engineering at TUT.
  • The project is headed by Professor Risto Ritala of the Department of Automation Science and Engineering
  • An important partner is the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, with which TUT develops its research activities in the field of robotics.
  • The project is sponsored by the Academy of Finland and Tampere University of Technology
 

Tampere University of Technology is building a stronger profile in robotics research and education with a special focus on heavy-duty robotic machines, as demonstrated by the TUT Flagship status awarded to the project. Robotics has tremendous growth potential, albeit that research in this field is extremely challenging and expensive.

The University has a proud history of developing factory automation and heavy machines.

”TUT ranks well above all the other universities in Finland in terms of the quality of research in heavy industrial robotics. Only a few research centres elsewhere in Europe are carrying out research of equal calibre in this area. Now we’re drawing together our robotics expertise that has been scattered across several departments and joining forces to achieve a common goal.”

Research results transferred to industry

The project partners are also engaged in close collaboration with leading companies in the field.

”The project has generated a great deal of interest among companies operating in Finland, especially those that have a long-standing tradition of collaborating with TUT, such as Sandvik, Cargotec, John Deere, Metso Minerals, Valtra and Valmet,” Kämäräinen lists.

”In a way, our project was initiated partly in response to all the robocar projects currently underway in the automotive industry and partly in defence of heavy industry in an era where consumer products attract the lion’s share of media attention.”

What makes the collaboration easier is the fact that a sizeable percentage of the R&D and management personnel in the partner companies have graduated from TUT.

”Projects like this are an ideal platform for cultivating alumni relations. They reflect the long-term commitment of TUT and our partners to work together towards a brighter future. U.S. universities have been forerunners in collaborating with industry through companies owned and led by their alumni, but similar partnerships have been less common in Finland,” Kämäräinen says.

Text: Sanna Schildt
Video: Robotics and Intelligent Machines project

 
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