Airbus to develop humanoid robots

Airbus Group Innovations (AGI), the organisations R&D wing, has launched a robotics research programme with Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Kawada HRP-2

Humanoid manufacturing robots are the aim of the programme.

“Introducing humanoid technology into aeronautical assembly lines is expected to support human operators in performing the most tedious and physically demanding parts of the manufacturing process, freeing up skilled workers to perform higher, value-added tasks,” said Airbus, adding that humanoid form will enhance the dexterity and versatility of robots, making them suitable for a range of tasks in a variety of environments without having to make significant changes to manufacturing processes originally designed for humans.

“Both AIST and CNRS researchers are at the cutting edge of humanoid robotics research, and we are excited about the opportunity to meld our expertise with theirs on the further development of this key technology for manufacturing,” said AGI head Sébastien Remy.

Kawada HRP-4The majority of research will be conducted at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory (JRL), which was established in 2004 on the AIST campus in Tsukuba, Japan.

Airbus Group and the CNRS-AIST JRL are also collaborating on COMANOID, a four-year research project launched in early 2015 as part of the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme, which aims at deploying humanoid robots to achieve non-added value tasks that have been identified by Airbus Group in civilian airliner assembly operations.

Viable humanoid robotics will require researchers to develop algorithms to give robots the equivalent of  hand-eye coordination for work in confined and poorly accessible spaces.

“These algorithms will be tested on a set of use-cases drawn from different Airbus Group Divisions and plants, in which the realism and complexity will be increased every year,” said Airbus.

Research will be based on Kawada HRP-2 (top) and HRP-4 (bottom) robots owned by the JRL, and demonstrations of the use-cases will be performed at different Airbus Group production sites around the globe.

The project will be supervised by a scientific board composed of Airbus Group, AIST and CNRS members, and a steering board including representatives of all three project partners and members of the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) and the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI).

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