ARM announces fourth call for manufacturing robotics projects

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Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) last week issued a formal solicitation for a call for proposals for eight topic areas relative to advancing robotics technology for manufacturing.

Pittsburgh-based ARM is the nation’s leading public-private collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation. It is part of the Manufacturing USA network and focuses on increasing U.S. global manufacturing competitiveness by promoting robotics innovation and the availability of skilled workers. ARM’s 189 members are able to participate in project calls.

This is the fourth project call since ARM’s formation in January 2017 by the U.S. Department of Defense and Carnegie Mellon University. To date, ARM and its members have committed more than $20 million (U.S.) across 18 projects.

These topic areas reflect the Technology Investment Strategy developed by ARM and its member collaborative. Detailed information about the project call can be found on the ARM Member Community and on the ARM public website at www.arminstitute.org/projects.

The eight topic areas are as follows:

1. Methods and tools for successful robotics adoption and expansion

The development of decision-making methods and tools that can be used to assess the risk associated with adopting robots for use in a manufacturing process.

2. User-friendly interfaces for programming, operations, and maintenance

The development of robotic systems with human-robot interfaces and sufficient artificial intelligence to reduce the burden of learning, operating, maintaining, or programming robots in manufacturing.

3. Bi-directional communication on the shop floor

The development of robotic systems with human-robot interfaces and sufficient AI to enable humans and robots to communicate in a manufacturing environment more effectively including via devices and software, information formats, and protocols for information transfer and interpretation.

4. Human-robot trust and safety

The development of robotic systems with human robot interfaces and AI to improve workers’ trust in robots when engaging in collaborative and co-located robotic manufacturing activities.

5. Modular robotic designs

The development of modular, reconfigurable, agile, and flexible robotic work cells for manufacturing processes that can be deconstructed and reassembled to achieve a new operational objective.

6. Smart, flexible sensors and integration

The integration of smart reconfigurable, agile, and flexible sensors for robotic work cells for manufacturing processes that can be varied in their scope and purpose, applying to a variety of roles and functions, while helping to enable easier integration between different robots, components, and hardware elements.

7. Automated path planning and robot instruction generation

The development of reconfigurable, agile, and flexible robotic work cells for manufacturing processes with the ability to provide automated path planning and robot instruction generation to safely and efficiently navigate their environment to complete tasks. This could include navigation using pretailored planning, mapping, and response as well as in-situ planning in response to unforeseen changes in the environment and situations.

8. Advisor robot

The development of robotic systems with the ability to sense, interpret, and make decisions under unanticipated conditions, by observing, identifying and detecting the faults and spec compliance of the manufacturing systems, processes, and environment.

The proposal submission is a two-step process with the following anticipated schedule. Proposals are submitted via the ARM Member Community.

Step 1: Concept Paper Submission: 5:00 PM ET, March 20, 2019

Step 2: Full Proposal Submission (by invitation only): 5:00 PM ET, June 7, 2019

ARM project requirements

  • Proposed projects must develop within Technology Readiness Levels (TRL) 4-7 and Manufacturing Readiness Levels (MRL) 4-7.
  • Each project has a minimum of 1:1 cost sharing with deference to those with higher cost share.
  • Projects must be industry-led and address an industry need.
  • Projects must develop or integrate innovation.
  • A typical project would be awarded $500,000 in federal funding over a one-year time period.

ARM may award up to $5 million in federal funding for this proposal cycle. Note that only active ARM members can participate in project calls. Visit www.arminstitute.org/membership to learn about becoming a member.

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