Multi-Robot Motion Planning Optimisation for Handling Sheet Metal Parts
Abstract: Motion planning for robot operations is concerned with path planning and trajectory generation. In multi-robot systems, i.e. with multiple robots operating simultaneously in a shared workspace, the motion planning also needs to coordinate the robots' motions to avoid collisions between them. The multi-robot coordination decides the cycle-time for the planned paths and trajectories since it determines to which extend the operations can take place simultaneously without colliding. To obtain the quickest cycle-time, there needs to bean optimal balance between, on the one hand short paths and fast trajectories, and on the other hand possibly longer paths and slower trajectories to allow that the operations take place simultaneously in the shared workspace. Due to the inter-dependencies, it becomes necessary to consider the path planning, trajectory generation and multi-robot coordination together as one optimisation problem in order to find this optimal balance.This thesis focusses on optimising the motion planning for multi-robot material handling systems of sheet metal parts. A methodology to model the relevant aspects of this motion planning problem together as one multi-disciplinary optimisation problem for Simulation based Optimisation (SBO) is proposed. The identified relevant aspects include path planning,trajectory generation, multi-robot coordination, collision-avoidance, motion smoothness, end-effectors' holding force, cycle-time, robot wear, energy efficiency, part deformations, induced stresses in the part, and end-effectors' design. The cycle-time is not always the (only) objective since it is sometimes equally/more important to minimise robot wear, energy consumption, and/or part deformations. Different scenarios for these other objectives are therefore also investigated. Specialised single- and multi-objective algorithms are proposed for optimising the motion planning of these multi-robot systems. This thesis also investigates how to optimise the velocity and acceleration profiles of the coordinated trajectories for multi-robot material handling of sheet metal parts. Another modelling methodology is proposed that is based on a novel mathematical model that parametrises the velocity and acceleration profiles of the trajectories, while including the relevant aspects of the motion planning problem excluding the path planning since the paths are now predefined.This enables generating optimised trajectories that have tailored velocity and acceleration profiles for the specific material handling operations in order to minimise the cycle-time,energy consumption, or deformations of the handled parts.The proposed methodologies are evaluated in different scenarios. This is done for real world industrial case studies that consider the multi-robot material handling of a multi-stage tandem sheet metal press line, which is used in the automotive industry to produce the cars' body panels. The optimisation results show that significant improvements can be obtained compared to the current industrial practice.
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