multipurpose robotics for mAniPulation of defoRmable materIaLs in manufacturing processes

Robotics is enabling a transition to a flexible, digitalized and demand-driven manufacturing sector where organizations are making the necessary adaptations in terms of manufacturing excellence and flexibility, including skills development, to capitalize on the increasing demand for more customized and higher-quality products.

The APRIL project aims at supporting new ways of automatization (semi- or fully-automated tasks) in manufacturing lines that produce, assemble or handle different types of flexible or deformable materials. To reach this objective, APRIL develops and builds demonstrative robotic prototypes optimized for soft and deformable materials processing in the manufacturing environments.

The new generation of robots will be:

  • safe to deploy around people with no guarding;
  • more skilful and competent at handling different types of soft products while controlling their level of deformation;
  • able to supervise all additional information of the product (colour, healthy state of food, etc.) during the handling;
  • more adaptable and able to learn in new interactive environments;
  • as well as more capable of being moved from line to line, and job to job, as needed.

APRIL has six (6) demonstrative pilots which approach the challenge of providing robots that can come closer to matching people’s fine motor skills in manipulating materials and small parts, dealing with flexible and soft materials (such as cloth), transparencies (such as packaging materials), specular materials (such as chrome-plated objects) and tiny objects (such fixing as cables). Thus, these demonstrative pilots approach also different visualization, human-robot interaction, safety and ergonomic challenges. The pilots are located in Spain, Italy, Portugal, Hungary and Turkey.

APRIL project is a 40 months project started in April 2020, receiving funding from the funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research under grant agreement No 870142. APRIL is driven by an interdisciplinary consortium composed by 15 European partners from 8 EU countries.