Research in Robotics catches the eye of the enterprises
June 24, 2013
Groups and teams from the University of Oviedo develop innovative devices the optimize industrial processes and which pursue an improvement in the quality of life of people
Robotics is an expanding field that deeply interest enterprises. The research conducted at the University of Oviedo in this field is a clear example of transfer of knowledge and innovation. Dozens of scientists of different fields work in the development of devices that improve the efficiency of industrial processes, contribute to sustainability or search, in general terms, an improvement in the quality of life of people.
A mobile robot capable of mapping its own path, a device that measure eye tension, a collector that generates thermo-solar energy or new technologies that help preventing accidents in the work place: these are just some examples of the projects developed by the Asturian academic institution.
All of these projects are linked by the fact that they are developed in collaboration with regional, national and international enterprises. Teams and groups from the Polytechnic School of Engineering of Gijón and the Polytechnic School of Mieres, from the Department of Electric, Electronic and Computer and System Engineering of the University of Oviedo, conduct a research that is cutting-edge in this field and which has been met with the support of enterprises and institutions, through contracts.
The applied research that is conducted at the University of Oviedo in the field of Robotics is approached from different areas: mechanics, electronics, mathematical modelization or systems engineering are some of the areas in which the researchers develop their studies to create devices in service of the industry and the people.
Robots among humans
The team of Multisensor Systems and Robotics of the University of Oviedo (SIMUR) works to make "robots go out from the factories and co-exist with the people", as Juan Carlos Álvarez, professor of the area of Systems Engineering and Automatics, explains. This service robotics means a "new frontier" in which the machines will interact with human beings, being able to understand and execute their orders or detect their necessities. The engineers of the SIMUR work in several projects that aim at improving the interface between robots and human beings through sensors and cameras that monitor the movement of the person. Perfecting this technology will allow them to substantially improve in fields such as the prevention of labor accidents, an area in which they are already collaborating with enterprises of the sector.
An innovative industry
The research Group of Electronics for Industrial Innovation (GE-II) works in different fields alongside enterprises. A mobile robot that maps its own path is one of the projects in which they are currently working on in collaboration with a prestigious enterprise. The application of Robotics to the heavy industry has diverse possibilities for the engineers at the GE-II, who come up with new designs and prototypes.
The projects developed by the Group of Electronics for Industrial Innovation, which belongs to the Area of Electronic Technology of the University of Oviedo and which is formed by 7 Doctor researchers, have yielded results in fields as diverse as biomedicine, with the design of a tonometer to measure occular tension, or the field of construction, with the design of an industrial robot that permits the elevation of the heavy structures of a whole roof.
Every piece of the puzzle
The experts of Mechanical Engineering are in charge of designing each and every piece that forms the skeleton of the robot. Professor José Manuel Sierra Velasco works with his team of Mechanical Design and Construction in projects related to the heavy industry. The conveyor with variable acceleration installed by ThyssenKrupp in Toronto is the result of one of their research projects, alongisde the parabolic cylindrical collector used to generate thermo-solar energy or the processor of biomass that recovers the leftovers of deforestation.
The challenge of precision
Professor Álvaro Noriega is also in charge of the area of Mechanical Engineering, but his approach to Robotics is based on a more abstract field: that of the mathematical modelization of the kinematics of the robots of closed chain. Noriega calculates the exact speed in which the robot has to carry out a certain task with absolute precision, and the points of its structure in which the links must be placed so that they can perfectly describe the movement in the correct amount of time. It is a milimetric task for fields such as biomedicine or aerospatial industry.
A commitment to the engineers of the future
The Master's Degree in Mechatronics and Mechatronic Systems is one of the postgraduate studies that is most attractive for recently-graduated engineers due to its high number of students who find a job after completing the Master's Degree. Teams from both the local and Erasmus Mundus Master's Degrees in Mechatronics and Mechatronic Systems presented their Master's Theses in one of the subjects of the programs.
Anthropomorphic robots with increasing degrees of freedom capable of performing a repetitive task and even obeying a voice command. Pedro Arévalo, Daniel Pérez and Javier Antón Llamazares form one of the teams that spent three months programming the prototype. The programming was the most complex part of the project. Daniel Arbesú and Manuel García Barbón designed an app for Android that takes their robot one step further. It is a project in which lab work and design require teamwork with groups in which the specialists in mechanics worked hand in hand with those from electronics and viceversa.