A new project has been funded through the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) University Leadership Initiative. Greater detail is provided below:
University of Wisconsin-Madison engineering professor Michael Zinn is working to improve the efficiency, flexibility and safety of the aviation manufacturing industry as part of a new NASA-funded project.
Zinn, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, is collaborating with computer science professor Bilge Mutlu, the project’s principal investigator, and professor Michael Gleicher and industrial systems engineering professor Robert Radwin. The UW-Madison researchers will also work with manufacturing and ergonomics engineers from Boeing on the three-year, $3 million grant, which is part of NASA’s University Leadership Initiative.
Aviation manufacturing presents several hurdles to greater automation, such as the complexity of assembly processes and considerable more variation and lower production rates than, say, the automotive industry.
In the project, the team will develop a flexible shared-control platform for collaboration between human workers and robots, strengthening ergonomics and safety for technicians and improving efficiency and flexibility in the production process.
“These tools will augment human physical capabilities in consideration of tolerances for forceful exertions, repetitive motions, stressful postures and hand-arm vibration, while capitalizing on exceptional human dexterity, sensory and cognitive capabilities,” the researchers write in their project abstract.