USC Viterbi School of Engineering aerospace and mechanical engineering students presented their work at the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME) Manufacturing Science and Engineering Conference held at Texas A&M University on June 18-22. The event, attended by members of academia and industry from around the world, showcased cutting edge manufacturing research in the form of papers, presentations, posters and panel discussions.
A team of Viterbi engineers was awarded third place in the paper competition for their paper titled “Robotic Finishing of Interior Regions of Geometrically Complex Parts.” Team members included students Ariyan Kabir, Aniruddha Shembekar, Rishi Malhan, Rohil Aggarwal, Joshua Langsfeld, Brual Shah and Smith International Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Computer Science Satyandra K. (S.K.) Gupta, who is the associate chair of the Department of Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering and director of the Center for Advanced Manufacturing.
For parts with complex geometries, the team developed a system to implement robot assistants to perform the surface finishing step necessary in the manufacturing process that is often labor intensive and poses health and safety risks to humans.
Kabir, PhD candidate and lead author of the paper, explained, “We have developed a collaborative finishing system where human operators work on high-level decision making and the robot assistants carry out the labor intensive low-level finishing tasks. The human operator guides the robotic system by transferring operator knowledge through a user interface.”
By developing a learning algorithm, they were able to significantly reduce programming time and improve efficiency of the finishing system.
The event also included a workshop titled Reusable Abstractions of Manufacturing Processes (RAMP) sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to discuss emerging topics. The workshop included a competition hosted by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) where students showcased their research on tracking resources through the manufacturing system.
Viterbi students Malhan, Kabir, Shah, Timotei Centea and Professor Gupta won the Judge’s Choice Award for their poster titled “Hybrid Cells for Multi-Layer Prepreg Composite Sheet Layup.”
“Composites are widely used in U.S. aerospace and automotive industry,” explained PhD candidate Malhan. “Existing automation solutions are limited. Manual process known as Hand Layup is currently used to overcome this limitation. It is ergonomically challenging and also leads to inconsistent part quality. We have realized a multi-robot hybrid cell which aims towards reducing the tedious labor during fabrication of composites.”