Battelle Proves PathPlan in High Stakes Demo with Aerobotix (Video)

It’s not just what your robots can do, it’s where they can perform the work and how easily they can be programmed to do so.

Now you can empower your industrial robots to automate the most challenging and complex applications in your environment—working within confined or hazardous spaces to perform intricate tasks on complex surfaces, high-value work pieces, and impossible-to-replace parts.

Battelle has once again successfully proven its robotic collision avoidance software, PathPlan™, in a live demonstration on a life-size mock-up of an air inlet duct of a multi-million dollar military aircraft.

(Learn how PathPlan provides increased asset availability. Courtesy of Battelle and YouTube)

Most industrial robots are programmed to strictly follow motion sequences. They move only in a predefined path to perform the task and require careful programming to maneuver around any complex regions.

When manufacturing or maintenance tasks are repetitive and straightforward, this approach makes sense.

When tasks are less predictable or involve high risk components, the time and expertise required to precisely define and program the exact sequence of motions makes automating these tasks cost prohibitive, if not impossible.

One of the highest risk activities in robotics automation is commissioning a new robotic work cell.

During this phase, operators must manually move the robot using a teach pendant. Because a human is directly controlling the robot during teach mode, there is very high risk of damaging the robot, tooling, or high-value workpiece.

Damage to a high-value aircraft can cause expensive rework, recertification of the airframe, and costly disruptions to tight operating schedules.

Battelle’s PathPlan autonomous motion planning and collision avoidance software empowers industrial robots to do what has previously been impossible—safely automate the most challenging tasks within confined or hazardous spaces, complex environments, or with high-value workpieces.

(Learn More, courtesy of engineeringdotcom and YouTube)

A recent demonstration with Aerobotix, a robotic systems integrator that specializes in coating and sanding applications for military aircraft, utilized PathPlan’s Teach Mode Collision Avoidance component during manual operation of a robot maneuvering inside an S-shaped air inlet.

The software provided protection for the robot, tooling, and aircraft by predicting the robot’s motion based on the operator’s interactions with the teach pendant.

Whenever a future collision was predicted, the software slowed the robot, immediately alerted the operator and if necessary, completely halted the robot.

Motion in any safe direction away from the collision was automatically enabled by the software to preclude the operator having to reset the teach pendant, as is frequently required with more rudimentary, zone-based methods.

“It’s extremely expensive to make mistakes in our line of work,” says Chris Kolb, VP of Business Development at Aerobotix.

Darren Krasny, Battelle industrial robotics lead

“If the skin of an aircraft is damaged during the coating phase, production must be stopped, the damage must be repaired, and the aircraft may require recertification.”

“PathPlan avoided collisions in our tests, even when we actively tried to cause them.”

“It’s not a question of if a robot collision will happen, but when,” says Darren Krasny, Battelle industrial robotics lead.

“Using heavy equipment in such close quarters to expensive components is dangerous. The PathPlan software is the best insurance policy available.”

The PathPlan software provides a full-featured collision avoidance suite with four components:

  • Teach Mode Collision Avoidance
  • Pre-Screening
  • Safe Home Return, and
  • Run-Time Monitoring

PathPlan™ Autonomous Motion Planning Software

Automate Tasks in High-Risk, High-Stakes Scenarios and Reduce Programming Time

Automate the Impossible With:

  • Automated dynamic route planning
  • Scan-to-path and CAD-to-path motion planning
  • Collision avoidance
  • Real-time monitoring of the robot
  • Intuitive, “point-and-click” program interface
  • Collision avoidance during teach mode operation

Adaptable to most industrial robotic platforms in use in the market today, PathPlan helps you get more out of your equipment—while potentially saving you up to 80 percent on your current programming costs.

PathPlan™ Autonomous Motion Planning Software

Why PathPlan?

We are talking about a new type of autonomous motion planning software that goes beyond collision detection.

PathPlan is a real-time automation solution that delivers significant competitive advantages to your business.

With PathPlan, you can:

  • Reduce reliance on skilled programmers
  • Decrease overall programming time and costs by up to 80 percent
  • Repurpose existing robotic equipment
  • Slash system and task set-up time
  • Mitigate vulnerabilities during operations that are not pre-scripted
  • Increase safety, efficiency and effectiveness
  • Eliminate costly time-consuming manual operations
  • Decrease manual operation errors and damage

How PathPlan Works

With PathPlan, your operators give your robot a specific goal and our algorithms determine the optimal collision-free path to achieve it—reducing your programming time and costs substantially.

  1. Learn: Robot scans environment using COTS sensors or receives CAD data.
  2. Visualize: PathPlan builds the virtual environment where your robot will operate.
  3. Define: The operator inputs the parameters of the task that you want the robot to accomplish, such as deburring all the edges of an irregularly shaped part.
  4. Plan: PathPlan software calculates a collision-free path to perform the defined task.
  5. Execute: PathPlan sends commands to the robot to execute the planned task via the collision-free path.
  6. Adapt: During run-time operations, PathPlan detects unplanned changes in the environment and adjusts its motion plan to accommodate the new information.
  7. Evolve: PathPlan applies what it has learned to different environments or to parts with varying characteristics, reducing the risk of collision during teach mode (manual) operation.

Sound like science fiction? It’s not. PathPlan is currently in use by automotive R&D departments, defense equipment manufacturers and the U.S. military.

Battelle new logoFrom robotic manufacturing and maintenance operations to manual process automation, Battelle’s PathPlan autonomous motion planning software reduces risk while increasing quality and efficiency for industrial robots operating in complex or high-stakes environments.

It is available now as a retrofit to existing systems or as a new system add-on. Learn more here.