Project Topics 2013-14

Robot Film Festival

The Robot Film Festival IQP will examine the intersection of art, sociology, psychology and technology through the medium of film. This IQP will study how a robot in a film can affect the human actors and the audience,examining and questioning how a robot may be used as an actor. 

Students in the IQP may begin by watching previous entries to the Robot Film Festival to analyze how robots can be made to influence and interact with people. Eventually, the team will develop a short film featuring robots from WPI. The team will also lead discussions following showings of versions of their film on campus. A final outcome would be submitting the team's final film to the 2014 Robot Film Festival. http://robotfilmfestival.com/   

Advisor: Michael Gennert (michaelg@wpi.edu)

Academic Year: 2013-14
Terms: A, B, C or B, C, D
Project Type: IQP
Status: Recruiting
Skills: None
Recommended Background: Interest in Robotics and Media
Sponsoring Company or Organization (if any): None
Maximum Team Size: 4

Augmented Reality for Communicating Robot Capabilities to People

We now have robots that can be used for some commonplace tasks but when people interact with a complex robot the like PR2, they often assume that the robot can do anything a human can do (and sometimes even more!). Unfortunately, this isn't true (yet!).

This project will explore how to augment the robot's environment to convey the capabilities of the robot to its user. This will be an Augmented Reality system that will use a projector to shine light on the environment. The light will communicate what the robot can and can't see, can and can't reach, etc. so that people know what the robot can do in a given situation.

This project will use the PR2 robot, Archie, and will not involve robot building.

Advisor: Dmitry Berenson

Terms: 2013-2014
Project Type: MQP
Status: Recruiting
Skills: Strong programming experience, experience with ROS
Sponsoring Company or Organization (if any): TBD
Maximum Team Size: 4

A Flying Scout to Assist the PR2 Robot

Our PR2 robot, Archie, is a state-of-the-art robot with a head, two arms, and a mobile base. The robot is very capable but it's somewhat large and consumes power quickly. If the robot came to your house and was asked to find something, it would take it a long time to drive around and map out the environment. This project will focus on software for a flying robot (most likely a commercially-available quad-rotor) that will be launched from the PR2 to help it scout out new environments more quickly. The robot will

1) Launch from a PR2
2) Autonomously map an unknown environment
3) Land on the PR2
4) Report the map to the PR2

The system will be implemented using ROS and a laser-scanner similar to the kinect on the flying robot. This project will not involve building a robot, a commercially-available flying robot will be used.

Advisor: Dmitry Berenson

Terms: 2013-2014
Project Type: MQP
Status: Recruiting
Skills: None
Prerequisites: Strong programming skills, experience with ROS
Sponsoring Company or Organization (if any): TBD
Maximum Team Size: 4

Modeling, Inverse Kinematics, and Embedded Programming for iRobot Packbot

iRobot is sponsoring an MQP to model the Packbot's arm in a software framework called openrave. Specifically, we will

1) model the packbot hardware in openrave
2) write a plugin for openrave to communicate with the robot (over iRobot's network protocol)
3) with openrave running on a linux computer, demonstrate inverse kinematics (using network protocol)
4) cross compile openrave for our robot's embedded environment
5) demonstrate openrave running embedded on the robot to control the manipulator

This project is a great opportunity to get skills relevant to iRobot (located in Bedford, MA), one of the world's foremost robotics companies.

The project will involve no robot building, an existing Packbot will be used.

Advisor Dmitry Berenson

Terms: 2013-2014
Project Type: MQP
Status: Recruiting
Skills: Strong programming skills
Sponsoring Company or Organization: iRobot Corporation
Maximum Team Size: 3

Curvic Qualification

Blisks (bladed disks) are used in jet engines and consist of a central hub surrounded by curved blades. The manufacturing of a blisk usually requires numerous inspection steps. One of these steps is to determine whether an assembly mating feature called the 'curvic' (a toothed area at the top of the central hub) is concentric to other part features. Another is to determine whether the end faces of the blisk are parallel. Specialized jigs and tools as well as trained inspection operators are used to do this at the present time. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically perform these quality checks. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  •  Preparing and aligning the jig,
  •  Mounting and aligning the blisk in the jig,
  • Making the measurements, and
  • Marking the blisk to indicate areas out of tolerance.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Blisk Visual Defect Inspection

Blisks (bladed disks) are used in jet engines and consist of a central hub surrounded by curved blades. The manufacturing of a blisk usually requires numerous inspection steps, one of which is that the entire surface area of the part must be visually inspected for nicks, dings, scratches and other surface anomalies. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically find suspect areas and bring them to the attention of manufacturing personnel. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Determining how to identify defects (or perhaps by inverting the problem, determining areas that do not have any identifiable problems), and
  • Alerting the operators to suspect areas.

 While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Deburring Outer Bands

Static (non-rotating) jet engine compressor stages are typically assemblies of 'sectors'. A sector is an angular segment of the disk before assembly. It consists of an 'inner band' with (typically) curved blades radiating outward to an 'outer band'. The machining of the outer band segment often leaves metal burrs on various of the machined edges. The expected outcome is the development of a robotic process that can automatically find and then remove the burrs. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Determining the presence of burrs, and
  • Removing the burrs without damaging the part.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Automated Tool Prep/Tool Crib

Jet engine components are often made from materials such as Titanium and Inconel. The manufacturing processes often require machining away a considerable amount of metal. Given the hardness of the metals involved, the process wears out end mills at a rapid rate. The expected outcome is the development of a robotic process that can automatically change end mills in the tool holders. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Positioning the robot to the tool holder,
  • Opening the tool holder and removing the used end mill, * Inserting a new end mill into the holder to the proper length, and
  • Tightening (closing) the tool holder.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Tool Tracking

A variety of machine tools are used in the manufacturing of jet engine components. Worn or misaligned tools can lead to manufacturing quality control problems. The expected outcome of this project is a process that can automatically track where various tools are being used in the production facility, and then feed that information into a manufacturing process quality control system so that use of particular tools can be correlated with the production of substandard parts. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Uniquely identifying the tools (RFID tags are one possibility),
  • Noting where and when a tool is being used (machine, job, etc.), and
  • Feeding this information into the existing manufacturing process quality control systems.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Tube Cutoff & End Finishing

A large number of tubes of various shapes, diameters and lengths need to be created as part of the manufacturing of a gas turbine engine. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically cut off / trim the end of a tube and then prepare the end of the tube for the next manufacturing step. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • There are many (thousands) of tubes to be handled and the number is steadily increasing. The system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • The tubes have often have been bent into various shapes and sizes. Again, the system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • Deburr & polish the end of the tube after cutting.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Tube Welding

A large number of tubes of various shapes, diameters and lengths need to be created as part of the manufacturing of a gas turbine engine. As part of the manufacturing of these tubes, various types of flanges are inserted onto the ends of the tubes which are then welded in place by an orbital welder. The expected output is a robotic process that can automatically insert the flange onto the end of a tube and then move the tube into a jig for the orbital welding step. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • There are many (thousands) of tubes to be handled and the number is steadily increasing. The system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • Inserting the flange onto the end of the tube without damaging the flange or the tube.
  • Performing the weld.
  • Inspecting the weld once it has been completed.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Automatic Jig Construction

A large number of tubes of various shapes, diameters and lengths need to be created as part of the manufacturing of a gas turbine engine. As part of the manufacturing process, the tubes finished tube assemblies are loaded into specially built jigs to determine if they have been bent and assembled correctly. The jigs are often large in size, so they cannot be left intact due to floor space restrictions. Thus they are disassembled and then reassembled when needed again. The expected output is a robotic process that can automatically assemble and qualify the testing jigs. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • There are many (thousands) of tubes to be handled and the number is steadily increasing. The system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • The jigs need to be created on demand
  • The jigs need to be built to a high engineering tolerance.
  • The jigs should ideally be created out of a supply of common / standardized component parts.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Tube Polishing

A large number of tubes of various shapes, diameters and lengths need to be created as part of the manufacturing of a gas turbine engine. As part of the manufacturing of these tubes, various types of flanges are inserted onto the ends of the tubes which are then welded in place by an orbital welder. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically polish out the discolorations that result from the welding step. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • There are many (thousands) of tubes to be handled and the number is steadily increasing. The system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • Positioning the welded tube assembly for the polishing operation on each weld.
  • Performing the polishing without damaging the tube assembly.
  • Inspecting the polished area to determine if it has been polished enough.
  • Loading and unloading the tube assemblies from the feed stations.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Wear Sleeve Prep

A large number of tubes of various shapes, diameters and lengths need to be created as part of the manufacturing of a gas turbine engine. As part of the manufacturing of these tubes, various locations along the tube are given a 'wear sleeve' to protect the tubing. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically apply the wear sleeve materials. These consist of specially pre-cut pieces of a carbon fiber material along with special tapes. In the manual process presently used, the tape is dispensed from a motorized dispenser which cuts the tape pieces to length automatically. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • There are many (thousands) of tubes to be handled and the number is steadily increasing. The system needs to be able to deal with this level of complexity.
  • Positioning the wear sleeve and tape onto the tube and applying it (wrapping it around the tube).
  • Loading and unloading the tube assemblies from the feed stations.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Blade Root Quality Check

Blisks (bladed disks) are used in jet engines and consist of a central hub surrounded by curved blades. The manufacturing of a blisk usually requires several steps, one of which is to check the quality of the filet at the root of the blade. The expected outcome is a robotic process that can automatically perform this quality check. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Determining whether there is a better way to accomplish the task than the current manual process, and
  • Avoiding causing damage to the blisk during the inspection.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. Citizenship may be required for project participant.

Advisors: Craig Putnam, Stephen Nestinger

Project Type: MQP

Blisk Overspray Removal

Blisks (bladed disks) are used in jet engines and consist of a central hub surrounded by curved blades. The manufacturing of a blisk usually requires several coating steps, one of which results in overspray onto certain areas of the blisk. The overspray is currently being removed by a labor-intensive manual process using rubberized abrasive materials (Cratex), large 'Q-Tip' type devices and very fine metal files. The expected outcome of the project is a robotic process that could automatically find and remove the overspray. Some of the challenges in developing such a process involve:

  • Determining the areas of overspray
  • Removing the overspray, and
  • Avoiding causing damage to prior coatings under the oversprayed areas.

While it is unlikely to be the case, U.S. citizenship may be required for project participants.

Advisors: Stephen Nestinger and Craig Putnam

Project Type: MQP

 
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