STTR Phase I: Development of a Remote Climbing Robot for Automating Welding Processes in the Ship Building Industry

Award Information
Agency: National Science Foundation
Branch: N/A
Contract: 0712523
Agency Tracking Number: 0712523
Amount: $149,648.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: STTR
Awards Year: 2007
Solicitation Year: 2006
Solicitation Topic Code: EL
Solicitation Number: NSF 06-598
Small Business Information
RTT
2560 Nova Circle, 6745 HOLLISTER AVENUE, Cookeville, TN, 38501
DUNS: 797902306
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 Jamie Beard
 Dr
 (615) 390-8723
 jamiebeard@charter.net
Business Contact
 Jamie Beard
Title: PhD
Phone: (615) 390-8723
Email: jamiebeard@charter.net
Research Institution
 TN Tech Univ
 Stephen T Canfield
 Dixie Ave
Cookeville, TN, 38501 3405
 (931) 372-6359
 Nonprofit college or university
Abstract
This Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I research project will demonstrate a novel, climbing, robotic manufacturing platform to significantly advance automated ship fabrication techniques in the US. The goal of providing automation to the American ship-building industry poses significant challenges for several reasons: the industry presents a highly unstructured environment that could be restrictive to the mobility of autonomous machines; manufacturing requirements in the industry dictate a large degree of flexibility in the operation of fabrication equipment; and the industry requires reliable operation in a physically demanding environment. This proposal offers a solution to these challenges by merging recent climbing robot technology developed for remote inspection tasks in the coal-fired electric power industry with automated (but manually driven or tracked/feature-based) welding equipment and by adding lessons learned in developing intelligent and mechanically robust equipment for harsh environments. n modern sea-going vessels, there is a vast amount of welding and cutting required during the process of creating the bulkhead assemblies. Automating these tasks for this industry provides several significant advantages: process safety improvements for hazardous environments or for space-constrained environments that require disassembly for manual inspection; cost reductions through decreased need for manual, repetitive activities or setup of elaborate equipment; and, quality improvements as processes are automated. In the longer term, these efforts will serve as a base for extending this flexible automation tool to many parts of the ship fabrication, inspection and maintenance process. Finally, the proposed work will advance the state of knowledge in performing robotic tasks remotely in unstructured environments, and will contribute to increased automation in many other fields that present tasks that are hazardous or expensive for humans.

* information listed above is at the time of submission.

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