The hazardous conditions associated with sanding operations has created an urgent need for automation to supplement the existing workforce and create safer working conditions. This project centers on the development of a human-safe robotic cell for sanding operations.


This project will develop a collaborative robotics system to aid skilled workers in sanding composite aircraft panels. Automating this process will reduce worker exposure to hazardous conditions. Additionally, this project will result in increased product quality and will reduce labor hours per unit. This reduction in automation costs will allow the project to be used by both large and small manufacturers. The planned output of this project will empower American workers to compete with low-wage workers abroad by multiplying the productivity and yield of the American worker.


Development of a cost-effective, human-safe robotic cell that allows human workers to perform concurrent tasks alongside the robot, maintaining the existing factory layout.

Technical Approach

The high-cost and disruption to the manufacturing process has prevented the deployment of automated sanding technologies on most aerospace applications. This project addresses these concerns through the development of a collaborative, human-safe robotic cell that can fit into the existing factory floor plans.


Spirit AeroSystems (Principal Investigator), Southwest Research Institute, Wichita State University