Designing a virtual robotic lab

Designing a virtual robotic lab

As part of the new wave of Industry 4.0, 3D printing, digital twins and virtual reality are just some of the tools that have been developed to help shorten machine design cycles. In France, the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), the University of Poitiers (Vienne) and Iteca have decided to combine their resources to develop tools to aid production and achieve these goals..

These three partners have created a joint laboratory with the objective of focusing on the virtualization of robotics which is a key technology in the production process. The laboratory, which was recently announced as the recipient of an ANR (National Research Agency) grant, aims to combine virtual reality and advanced robotics.

The project goal is to represent a machine in an immersive environment which corresponds very closely to real-life models of dynamic behavior. The companies hope that design errors can be avoided while optimally calculating the postures and gestures of the operator during the maintenance and driving phases.

The laboratory is called “(Mach4) machine control and virtualization for Industry 4.0”. It uses a broad range of skills, ranging from digital twins to AI (artificial intelligence), biomechanics and mechatronics.

The purpose of the models as currently designed is to place the operator (supervisor, maintenance technician, line operator) in optimal conditions to make the appropriate intervention or condition decisions and to process the multiple forms of data generated by the machine.

The Pprime Institute and Iteca are the two driving forces in this project with the Pprime Institute developing complex mechatronic solutions dedicated to production robotics and methodologies to assess the biomechanical comfort of the operator in production. Iteca, meanwhile, specializes in providing production line virtualization solutions with virtual reality engines.