Flexible Manufacturing – includes the development of robots for few-of-a-kind manufacturing / fabrication, as well as portable robots that can “go to the part” rather than the traditional approach of fixed robots and moveable parts. One of the keys of Flexible Manufacturing is robot systems that do not require extensive “hard” programming, but are flexible and utilize sensor data to “self program”. Two early portable robot systems that met this criteria for Flexible Manufacturing were the PAS-Deck and PAS-B/H robot systems, developed for removing out-of-fairness from deck, bulkheads and, hulls. Prototypes of these two robots were developed in projects funded by NSRP. That work included the investigation of a robot controller that was entirely sensor driven and was capable of self-programming. Work on two other projects has developed two new Flexible Automation based portable robots, which can be adapted for shipbuilding. This technology is the key to realizing the cost reduction and productivity found in industries, such as automobile manufacturing, for shipbuilding.

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