PhD Research Position on Adaptive Robotic Demanufacturing

Updated: 5 months ago
Deadline: 31 Mar 2023

The envisaged research will be part of the NEW-RE project that was recently approved in the framework of the EIT Raw Materials. In this project KU Leuven will collaborate with 7 other European partners: ERION, GlobEco, Itelyum Regeneration, OSAI Automation System, Smart Waste Engineering, TREEE and Università degli Studi dell'Aquila.

In this project, KU Leuven will lead the activities on lifecycle impact and lifecycle costing analysis (LCA&LCC) and on computer vision driven robotic demanufacturing. These activities will be carried out within a multidisciplinary and multinational/multicultural team of researchers at KU Leuven, in which competences are already available to perform the LCA&LCC and the deep learning computer vision for component detection and product identification. Therefore, we are looking for a new colleague to complement this team with the objective to investigate the most optimal approaches for continuous feeding and clamping of electronic products or printed wiring boards and for one or multiple robots to dismantle the products with multiple unscrewing tools (or alternative dismantling technologies, such as milling). To increase the system’s robustness, cost-efficiency and flexibility, approaches for human-machine collaboration will be investigated e.g., for the robotic unscrewing and the manual sorting of (reusable)components. This human-robot collaborations (HRC) encompasses various challenges, such as decision support to define the optimal depth of disassembly and destination for the disassembled components (reuse v.s. recycling), multi-actor task assignment under uncertainty of the vision system, demanufacturing line/work balancing, adaptive instructions for manual disassembly e.g., based on which tasks the robot (un-)successfully performed.

Therefore, in the context of the New-RE project:

  • You will investigate how to define task lists for multiple actors in a demanufacturing line and develop a disassembly sequence planning algorithm to assign these tasks in an optimal manner considering the capabilities and limitations of the different robot (tools) and operator(experiences)
  • You will investigate optimal approaches to integrate a camera system, a product clamping mechanism, multiple robotic unscrewing systems and a manual workstation and how to assign tasks to the different actors for optimal line balancing, as well as the required adaptive communication strategies
  • You will investigate how dismantling tasks and previous dismantling experiences could be saved or included in a digital product passport to support robotic, manual and collaborative demanufacturing.
  • You will support the mechanical and electrical development and programming to update the available lab setup and related software, and later on in the project you will support the integration of the developed software on the system that will be constructed by the company OSAI for pilot testing.
  • You will setup and perform capacity and robustness tests of the automated system for specific use cases, as well as tests to evaluate the human-machine cooperation from these different perspectives.

You are part of a multi-disciplinary research group, working on the topic of Life Cycle Engineering (LCE) under the supervision of Prof. Dr. MSc. Ing. Jef Peeters.

  • You follow-up literature, patents, company releases, conferences, etc., and use the obtained information to determine the state-of-the-art and identify opportunities for novel contributions to the field.
  • You are responsible for developing, implementing, and evaluating robotic demanufacturing systems and different approaches for human-robot collaboration for demanufacturing.
  • You help to define Master thesis topics related to your research and guide Master students with their thesis work.
  • You support in teaching activities for bachelor or master students at the faculty of engineering technology, campus Groep T (max 10% of the working time)
  • You report to your senior colleagues, supervisors, and the different project partners during the bi-annual project meetings organized at the premises of the different project partners
  • You present your research results at international conferences.

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