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FABROB: A Robot for Flexible Pre-Fabrication

Principal Investigator: Dr Fumiya Iida and Dr Perla Maiolino
Trimble Contact: Mr Richard Fletcher

The Bio-inspired Robotic Lab at Engineering Department will work on a new project which main objective is to develop robotic prefabrication system enabling flexibility in prefabrication practice. 

There has been an increasing interest of the use of dexterous manipulation robots in construction industry and in particular in pre-fabrication. The use of robots that are accurate, fast and ideal to perform repetitive tasks in very well constrained environment, provides many advantages such as faster production and efficiency in the assembly of elements.

The main limitation of current prefabrication solutions is the lack of flexibility, that is, instead, an important key requirement for the smart factories of the future that need flexible assembly line robots able to share the environment and work safely with humans.

In this project we develop a robotic prefabrication system that could increase the flexibility of the current prefabrication practice.

Two types of new reconfigurable/soft grippers will be developed and provided with modular foldable tactile sensor arrays for making the robot able to apply the right manipulation/ assembly force, to detect shape of the contact emerging during interaction with the objects and their deformation/slippery during manipulation/assembly.

The foldable tactile sensor arrays will be a capacitive large scale tactile sensor consisting on interconnected triangular modules hosting 10/11 tactile elements that can provide up to 10 bits of pressure resolution (Figure 1-a) and able to conform to 3D surfaces (Figure 1-b)[2].


Figure 1: (a) Foldable tactile sensor array modules organized in a patch. (b) a sensor module folded and integrated on a human size finger like 3D shape. (c) Robotic platform we use in this project, which is already available at BIRL.