Nicholas Watson, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Engineering discusses whether online sensors and machine learning can deliver industry 4.0 to the food and drink manufacturing sector in the Journal of the Institute of Food Science and Technology, vol 33 issue 4 December 2019.
“Manufacturing is experiencing the 4th industrial revolution, which is the use of Industrial Digital Technologies (IDTs) to produce new and existing products. Industrial digital technologies include sensors, robotics, the industrial internet of things (IoT), additive manufacturing, artificial intelligence, virtual and augmented reality, digital twins and cloud computing. At the heart of Industry 4.0 is the enhanced collection and use of data. Industry 4.0 is predicted to have a positive impact of over £450bn to UK manufacturing over the next ten years, with benefits such as increased productivity and reduced costs and environmental impacts. But what does this mean for the UK’s largest manufacturing sector, food and drink?”
Link to article (page 20)
I-CUBE is developing new methods to enable collaborative robots (co-bots) to learn in a more naturalistic manner, using sensors to interpret the actions, language and expressions of their human collaborators. Advanced algorithms for decision-making, combined with reinforcement learning techniques will enable more effective, productivity enhancing human-robot cooperation for shared tasks.
Our first demonstrator project will show how a small industrial co-bot (a Universal Robots UR5) can be directed to learn how to sort laundry in preparation for washing, according to the human collaborators’ preferences, as given by natural language and gesture. Computer vision and machine learning techniques will be integrated within the demonstrator for gesture recognition, as well as recognition of the colour of the cloths and the baskets in which to place the items of clothing.
We are currently preparing for our first study with the intention of capturing the language and gestures that humans use whilst directing a co-bot to sort laundry. To do this we will use a Wizard of Oz method where a human will fulfil the role of the co-bot ‘brain’ whilst being hidden from the participant. This will allow participants to express themselves naturally while the co-bot enacts their instructions correctly, or not. Errors in the co-bot’s responses are expected to elicit natural corrective reactions from the human. These natural language and gestures will provide a corpus for the co-bot to use in its learning as well as assist in improving the co-bots sense of its environment, objects in it and their relevance to i
It’s been a busy year for the Smart Products Beacon during which we’ve refined our research agenda and vision, launched demonstrator projects, developed our business case for the University and secured funding for initial projects, including EPSRC funding to establish a Centre for Doctoral Training for at least 65 new PhD students.
Today (8th April 2019), we are holding a one day gathering to learn more and explore how people can get involved.
The event commenced with an overview of RoboClean, Food Design for Future Dining (FD)2 and Industrial Co-bots Understanding Behaviour (ICUBE).
A breakout session led to some useful research-led discussion on emerging themes, including:
- Process planning for highly-customised products
- Social technological interactions and implications
- Data-enabled smart optimization
- Digital Technology, Manufacturing, and Productivity
- Smart Musical Instruments
A session of contributed paper presentations followed a short lunch break and poster session. These included:
- User-Experience Design for Future Smart Vehicles
- Managing attractiveness and tensions in digitally enhanced business environments
- Locating the Smart Product Beacon: understanding the place based-agenda in RCUK funding (or, why economic geography matters)
- “Demonstrating a framework to investigate combined packing and scheduling problems”?
- “Peeling away the layers: toward a metaphor of foam to analyse composed digital-physical products”
- Physical-Digital Alignment
The day concludes with a second breakout session – an opportunity to address and plan key beacon activities for the coming year.