The future of welding for shipbuilding is increasing automation. As quality and productivity requirements continue to increase, automated systems will be required to meet those demands. What processes cannot be automated will require more highly skilled welders. Today, the shipbuilding industry depends heavily on manual welders. The nature of shipbuilding is that much of the welding, is done to produce relatively small number of ships – compared to, for example, the automobile industry. Robot programming is difficult and expensive, particularly for the welding process. By amortizing that cost over tens of thousands of automobiles, that industry can afford to use welding robots. Recently, a new approach to robotics is being developed – Collaborative Robots, also known as COBOT’s which are designed to work alongside humans. A feasibility study has been completed to develop a welding COBOT, specifically for shipbuilding. The study has shown that this human-in-the-loop mobile welding COBOT can be successful in remotely producing welds, increasing the welding speed of a skilled welder, and not requiring scaffolding to produce the weld.

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