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Airbus Plans Humanoid Robots For Its Aircraft Factories

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Airbus, in partnership with Japanese and French robotics researchers, wants humanoid robots to perform non-critical tasks by 2020

Aircraft manufacturer Airbus is set to develop humanoid robots to work in its plane factories, in partnership with robotics researchers in Japan and France.

Airbus Group Innovations (AGI), the research and technology wing of Airbus, said it wants to introduce humanoid robotic technology into aeronautical assembly lines to help its human workers.

COMANOID

The project, dubbed COMANOID, will call in the help of Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) and France’s National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS).

Sébastien Remy, Head of Airbus Group Innovations, said the use of robotics has become ubiquitous in the aircraft industry.

“Both AIST and CNRS researchers are at the cutting edge of humanoid robotics research,” he said.

“We are excited about the opportunity to meld our expertise with theirs on the further development of this key technology for manufacturing.”

COMANOID aims to deploy humanoid robots to achieve menial tasks that have been identified by Airbus in civilian airliner assembly operations.

robots
HRP-2 © Kawada Industries, Inc

However, Airbus said that realising its vision of humanoid robots that are viable in factories, researchers will have to develop new algorithms to give the robots human-like hand-eye coordination skills.

“These algorithms will be tested on a set of use-cases drawn from different Airbus Group Divisions and plants, in which the realism and complexity will be increased every year,” said Airbus today.

Airbus said that by designing humanoid robots, the machines will also be capable of performing more physically demanding roles, like heavy lifting, freeing up labour for more valuable tasks.

The robots will be based upon the JRL’s HRP-2 and HRP-4 human-sized robots, and Airbus plans to showcase its research at Airbus sites around the globe.

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