This project addresses the current limitations of the limited robotic options for polishing through the development of a low-cost, flexible system.


The polishing of large metallic parts is a critical manufacturing operation across various operations. The current process is predominantly completed manually. The objective of this project is the advancement and integration robot hardware and software to allow automatic onsite polishing. The limited robotic options that currently exist can only be applied to small workpieces and lack flexibility because the workpieces being polished must be held by a robotic arm. In this project’s approach, the surface is fixed while the grinding tool is held by the robotic arm.


Develop a flexible, low-cost robotic solution for surface treatment, particularly surface weld wash, grinding, and polishing.

Technical Approach

This project focuses on an approach where the surface is fixed and the grinding tool is maneuvered by a robotic arm. To do this successfully, the following advancements will be critical:

  • Alignment of the surface with a 3D model
  • Initial measurement of surface roughness using a profilometer. The real time trajectory module will be used to generate the robot trajectory
  • Determination of polishing parameters based on the initial measurement. The polish decision module will be used to determine the parameters using a set of rules stored in the library
  • The trajectory planning module will be used to generate a trajectory for the approach of the area then the actual polishing
  • The robot will use the profilometer to measure the roughness of the polished area and then report the quality of polishing


Carnegie Mellon University (Principal Investigator), Siemens, Yaskawa Motoman