A new welding robot has been trialed successfully as part of a National Shipbuilding Research Program (NSRP) project in the U.S.
The high mobility manufacturing robot (HMMR) is being developed for use in ship compartments for a wide variety of operations such as surface preparation, coating and welding tasks.
The robotic prototype features a holonomic platform that is capable of moving in any direction, is powered from a single 110V input source and has LIDAR (light detection and ranging) and sonar sensing systems for positioning and obstacle avoidance.
Every year, millions of man hours are spent performing work in enclosed ship compartments. This work is among the most labor intensive, dangerous and least touched by automation (and productivity) as any performed, says project partner Robotic Technologies of Tennessee. The work depends on highly skill laborers to perform much of the manufacturing tasks primarily in a manual fashion.
While this workforce is highly skilled in their craft, many of the productivity enhancements associated with new technologies in robotics, embedded processing and software applications have not been applied. The new system is anticipated to augment their work and significantly improve productivity and safety.
Phase 2 of the project will investigate enhancing the magnetic crawling platform with the ability to traverse stiffeners on a panel line.
The project team includes:
Robotic Technologies of Tennessee
BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards
The project began in 2014 when the Executive Control Board of NSRP selected four major research and development projects for awards as part of the program’s mission to reduce costs associated with U.S. shipbuilding and repair. The new projects are valued at approximately $6.6 million in both Navy funding and industry cost share.