Robots and Remote Systems to the Rescue


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Augmented Reality and Artificial Intelligence

In manufacturing, improving collaboration between machines and humans requires better perception. What a human or robot cannot ​“see” or reconstruct, they cannot control or account for. Augmented reality — technology that blends virtual components with real-world perception — offers a novel way to improve humans’ ability to perceive and control the machines they operate.

Computer science student Matthew Krebs, a senior at Lewis University, is learning firsthand how to integrate and optimize what we see in augmented reality with what exists in the real world. He does so with the help of machine learning and 3-D sensor technology.

“There are so many ways we can apply what we’re learning here to make manufacturing faster and smarter, safer and less costly. That’s why having the opportunity to do things like machine learning — which I’ve never done before — has been extremely valuable,” Krebs said. ​“This has been the best experience to help me make an educated decision about my future.”

Augmented Reality and 3-D Sensing

Along with better perception, proper alignment of human action and robot action is vital to improving collaboration between humans and machines. Humans operating machines through augmented reality must be confident that their motions are aligned with the robot’s actions.

Morales, a senior at Florida International University who is studying biomedical and electrical engineering, is evaluating how well augmented reality and real-world actions align with each other, using 3-D sensors and a tactile device that controls the two-arm robot Baxter. He evaluates the robot’s performance under various test conditions to see if its arms move in time and in position with the human controller’s and looks for ways to improve coordination of motion.

“In school, the focus tends to be on the need to graduate, whereas here people really care about making new and useful technologies that can help the nation, and they encourage you to explore and test new ways to do so,” Morales said. ​“It feels good to be here because of that.”

The SULI program is supported by DOE’s Office of Science.  The robotic work on nuclear facilities is funded by the DOE’s Environmental Management Technology Development Office. Leveraging existing research to enhance advanced manufacturing — the development of more efficient manufacturing processes or materials — is one of Argonne’s key missions and the thrust of the Manufacturing Science and Engineering initiative. 

Sign up here to learn more about Argonne’s technologies advancing manufacturing, including energy-efficient processes and advanced materials design.

About Argonne National Laboratory 

Argonne National Laboratory seeks solutions to pressing national problems in science and technology. The nation’s first national laboratory, Argonne conducts leading-edge basic and applied scientific research in virtually every scientific discipline. Argonne researchers work closely with researchers from hundreds of companies, universities, and federal, state and municipal agencies to help them solve their specific problems, advance America’s scientific leadership and prepare the nation for a better future. With employees from more than 60 nations, Argonne is managed by UChicago Argonne, LLC for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.

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