IBM researchers and engineers began working on computer-based tools more than 30 years ago such that the tools can be used in advanced industrial and testing applications.One of such tools include intelligent,flexible robotic systems that could perform complex and repetitive tasks in no time.
Now,a new mobile robotic system developed by IBM could help field engineers to repair the faulty equipments in remote locations.The robot is expected to help engineers to find the broken equipment easily, offer information about the system and provide real-time visual support from supervising experts.
The Mobile Repair and Operations (MRO) prototype not only includes an application that allows a supervisor to monitor an engineers progress but also has a robotic arm combined with a microphone, laser pointer to sketch diagrams and a camera system.
It also has a projector that can overlay information on equipment to guide remote repair work.With the help of this projector,supervisors and experts back at base can look and talk to oversee fault fixing.
According to IBM,the creation pairs a GPS-equipped smart phone with a robot arm as well as QR codes to locate and identify an asset and receive maintenance instructions.It uses augmented reality technology to cover points of interest over a plan of the site.Service engineers usually encounter with a challenge of finding broken equipment in a large, unfamiliar manufacturing location.
When fixing the broken system,an expert located at a vendor location could view the on-site engineer’s work and assist or support them with a real-time video and audio links using a camera and a small projector mounted at the end of a remotely controlled robotic arm.Expert from a management console can also be able to project a pointer and information such as CAD images etc are sent directly onto the workspace if needed.
“The system is completely transportable and operates hands free so the engineer can place it anywhere and lets them direct data to either their mobile phone or the robot’s projector”,says Richard Lanyon-Hogg, IBM Technical Director for the industrial sector.
The system enables a video audit trail when needed again and can report data into a company’s maintenance operation.
In case if an accident occurs,the system can be used to help the injured staff to quickly find the nearest first aid station.It can also guide them to other workers who can assist the affected persons.
This prototype is a result of IBM’s collaboration with the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC).Though,there was no word officially on when the system might be available,it will surely give a tough competition to existing system like Motorola Solutions’ HC1 headset.