• New open-architecture control (OAC) methods, both at the supervisory level (distributed control) and at the real-time control level (control interfaces and architectures).
  • Develop a set of class objects for OAC automation.
  • Develop flexible part handling equipment.
  • Simplify automation environment, in programming, monitoring, and user training.
  • Interdisciplinary research involving faculty and students from several departments within the University.
  • Increase collaborative/sponsored research with external groups, including international institutions, industry, and government.

Research Areas

    Flexible tooling and part handling - investigation of modular tools and devices for handling mechanical and electronics component parts. Part handling inflexibility is one of the modern deterrents to flexible open-systems assembly.

    Web integrated control environment - intranet environment for symbolic programming and open-systems control of herarchically distributed automation components. Automation must be made easier to apply. The currently heterogeneous environment is far too complex to maintain. This research considers the web as an integrated control, monitoring, and training environment. Among the areas considered are the development of Java symbolic programming interfaces, intranet linking to fieldbus cards for control programming, activity monitoring, and data acquisition.

    Open architecture control (OAC) - modification of control architectures to permit open, supervisory control of mechanisms and sensory devices. Modern mechanism controllers are typically designed to be autonomous and proprietary, in their trajectory generation, programming interfaces, and I/O interfaces. Although most current controllers provide a serial interface, motion slave interfaces are typically slow and syntactically limited.  Current research is investigating the replacement of conventional servocards with a software controller, using a dedicated processor in a dual processor CPU to execute conventional and new control algorithms (PID, force control, etc.), trajectory generation, and I/O processes.

    Flexible assembly using state carriers - This unique research effort considers assembly states thoughout the assembly process. A state carrier is a method of assigning assembly process information to parts as they complete certain assembly operations. The state carrier architecture offers interesting flexibility in automated assembly.