Composite layups are limited to low-volume runs or specialty composite item production due to a highly manual process. This project aims to automate that process, improving quality and enabling larger runs.

Project

Composite layup, despite being labor-intensive, remains a highly manual process and thus limited to low-volume runs or specialty composite item production. The robotic technologies generated through this project aim to make the layup process more collaborative with robot assistants working alongside humans. This will require advancements in perception, planning, and control areas. Additionally, the project will evaluate the quality of robotic layup processes and compare it to the manual process of today.

Objective

Automate the composite layup process through robotic assistants working alongside humans, enabling larger-scale production and resulting in safer human working conditions.

Technical Approach

This project will develop a robotic work cell that can perform layup under human supervision, allowing for collaboration. The following developments will enable project success:

  • Develop sensing and perception technologies for inspection and monitoring of prepreg sheets
  • Develop planning system for automatically generating robot instructions to perform layup tasks
  • Develop control and optimization technologies for on-line process control and optimization

Participants

University of Southern California (Principal Investigator), Lockheed Martin, United Technologies Research Center