Project Description

MAIC project has developed a collaborative industrial mobile manipulator capable of adapting itself, in a multi-functional way, to an industrial production environment with the mission of assisting the operators in manipulating items of various weights and shapes.

The objectives of the project give response to SEAT COMPONENTS’ need to introduce ergonomic improvements to various jobs (especially those which require repetitive, manual manipulation of items of considerable weight). MAIC improves plant productivity, as it facilitates an increase in the flow of materials between different processing and production stations. The flexibility of the robot poses a major advantage as it is able to help assist production lines, providing support in the manipulation of heavy items throughout the working day given that it alleviates and free workers from the repetitive effort and the frequency with which they have to manipulate heavy items. This means a significant improvement for ergonomics and a reduction in the physical resentments of the operators that are caused by fast and repetitive item manipulation. Also, as an autonomous mobile platform, MAIC can improve the internal logistic material circuit, optimising the flow of materials.

MAIC project has allowed the development of the new assistant robot concept, also known as Cobot or CoWorker, and its introduction into a real-life production environment, with which it has demonstrated the advances of this technology in a way that can be widely replicated and introduced in this and other production plants. Also, given the technological transfer vocation of the Eurecat Technology Centre, this technology will be able to be adapted to other productive industries with similar needs.

The MAIC collaborative, industrial mobile manipulator has been developed from the integration of devices which are commonly used in the industry, such as automated guided vehicles (AGVs) and industrial robotics, which will be controlled through a common architecture, based on an ROS (Robot Operative System) or similar, which allows the system to be globally controlled and facilitates the adaptation of new functions.

A major part of the project development effort has consisted of developing new algorithms and adapting them to the manipulator and its environment. The functions and algorithms developed are:

  • A new navigation solution that allows the manipulator to move around autonomously between different productive stations, without the need to modify the infrastructure of the plant, and capable of easily adapting to changes in the environment.
  • An intelligent manipulation system that allows for the real-time, transparent adaptation of the robot’s job in relation to the state of the environment and, at the same time, incorporates cooperative object manipulation functions.
  • An environment perception system capable of extracting useful information from the environment, such as identification and positioning of known objects, detection of obstacles, monitoring and prediction of operator movements, etc.

Another important aspect of the project has been safety, given the collaborative functioning required by the application, where physical barriers between the robot and the individuals that work in its surroundings are eliminated. All the components and systems have been analysed in relation to this aspect and all the necessary solutions have been introduced in order to comply with current legislation and ensure safety. Additionally, with regard to current regulations, as this is a very recent technology with little regulatory guidance, continuous monitoring of all preparation process regulations and standards has been carried out at an international level, in a bid to certify the whole development process of the MAIC project so that it may be introduced to production.

The main result of the project is a collaborative, industrial, mobile manipulator prototype that incorporates all the functions described and is suitable for certification and subsequent production launch.

Consortium formed by: SEAT and Eurecat.

General details

Project

MAIC –  Collaborative Industrial autonomous mobile manipulator

Project reference

RTC-2015-4503-7

Programme and call for tenders

Project financed by the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness in the framework of the Collaboration-Challenges call for proposals of the State Programme for Research, Development and Innovation aimed at Societal Challenges, within the framework of the State Scientific and Technical Research and Innovation Plan 2013-2016, with the main objective of promoting technological development, innovation and quality research.

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