AIMS5.0 - The next big step in digital transformation

Flights for future - autonomous drones on a mission
Flights for future - autonomous drones on a mission

 

Feb 06 2024

Flights for future - autonomous drones on a mission

by Ralf Hartmann on behalf of the AIMS5.0 consortium

With the attempt to take the European Industry to the next level of digitalisation, first fundamental research activities in AIMS5.0 prepare the way to get the 20 use cases off the ground bringing the future of a highly efficient fabrication to life. One of the striking examples is an autonomous indoor drone.

As a work result of work package 5, the drone will demonstrate an AI based improved connection between production and logistics. Developed by IPH, “Institut für integrierte Produktion Hannover” from Germany it will work as a scan device covering a complete production site of carmaker BMW to create a digital twin of it.    

Daily scans for digital twins

The drone is able to navigate autonomously through a manufacturing hall catching every corner and measuring each millimetre. Other than a ground bound device, it can measure even closed robot cells or conveyor belts. Together with the metrics from a ground bound automated guided vehicle system (AGV), a robot dog, the gapless data collection enables an accurate three-dimensional reproduction for a digital twin with regular updates.

This makes it easier to restructure or rebuild production lines, for example if new products are to be manufactured. For this purpose, every machine, every robot and each workplace is recorded in the factory coordinate system. In the project, the IPH team first puts together the hardware deciding which types of cameras or sensors are suitable and how the drone must be designed in order to carry the payload. The team is also developing the software for autonomous drone flight.

Challenging flight planning

The main challenge is that the drone must determine its position at any time without using GPS, which does not work indoors. It must be able to detect obstacles and avoid collisions, not only with walls, but also with cables, glass panes or moving obstacles. The drone has to plan its flight route independently to explore every corner of unknown spaces, and in the shortest possible time so as not to disrupt production. Further, it may have to fly to a charging station independently or change the battery.

The autonomous flight planning will consider three different aspects. The speed should be optimised so that the drone can fully explore an unknown space in as short a time as possible. Then, the drone should fly in a photogrammetry-optimised manner, that is at the optimal height and at the optimal distance from objects as to to capture them completely and in three dimensions. Finally, flight planning is optimised for the laser scan. In this case, the drone must stop in the air at certain intervals and carry out the scan.

“Our aim is to create a drone where the mode of how to fly it can simply be set on the device,” IPH team member Hendrik Kumpe says. “Thus, companies can use one system for different purposes.” The plan is to fly the drone each night for a 24-7 update of the digital twin with a measurement accuracy of at least 2 centimetres with the drones / 2 mm with other equipment and measurement methods. Due to safety regulations, it can be active only when there are no persons in the hall, either during the night or during break times in a speed-optimised mode

Exploring the unknown

Besides, measuring production sites is only one of many other applications. In the future, autonomous drones may explore unknown spaces under hazardous conditions. They can search burning or collapsed buildings, inspect mines or measure the radiation in decommissioned nuclear power plants. For manufacturers the main benefit is a way easier planning, use or redesign of their production sites. They can use the existing space far more efficiently or rapidly adapt production lines to meet with the demands of changing markets.

In AIMS5.0, this research work will complete BMW’s previous efforts for a digital twin. In the end, also other manufacturers may benefit from the findings of the publically funded project in order to strengthen Europe’s competitive position.        
 

 

 

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Project Results
Feb 06 2024

Flights for future - autonomous drones on a mission


With the attempt to take the European Industry to the next level of digitalisation, first fundamental research activities in AIMS5.0 prepare the way to get the 20 use cases off the ground bringing the future of a highly efficient fabrication to life. One of the striking examples is an autonomous indoor drone.

As a work result of work package 5, the drone will demonstrate an AI based improved connection between production and logistics. Developed by IPH, “Institut für integrierte Produktion Hannover” from Germany it will work as a scan device covering a complete production site of carmaker BMW to create a digital twin of it.

Daily scans for digital twins

The drone is able to navigate autonomously through a manufacturing hall catching every corner and measuring each millimetre. Other than a ground bound device, it can measure even closed robot cells or conveyor belts. Together with the metrics from a ground bound automated guided vehicle system (AGV), a robot dog, the gapless data collection enables an accurate three-dimensional reproduction for a digital twin with regular updates.


Event
Feb 02 2024

Sharing knowledge in Austria


With regard to collaboration and synergy effects within and across the project, a major event in 2023 is worth being noted, which, in fact, was a two-in-one event. 

On 27-28 September, the University of Applied Sciences in St. Pölten, Austria, hosted the Deep Tech Workshop as part of the two large-scale European initiatives AIMS5.0 and Arrowhead fPVN, while at the same time, the new Research Studio Smart Digital Industries and Services (SDIS) was opened on the premises of the university.    

Both Arrowhead fPVN coordinator Luleå  University of Technology (LTU) in Sweden and SDIS founder Research Studios Austria Forschungsgesellschaft (RSA FG) are members of the AIMS5.0 consortium. LTU is co-leader of WP3 working on the cyber architecture, and RSA is co-leader of WP7 dealing with human acceptance, trust and ethics for Digital Workspaces. 

Deep Tech Workshop for collaboration

The Deep Tech Workshop’s primary focus was on common technologies and initial use of use-cases in AIMS5.0 and Arrowhead fPVN. The latter project name stands for the Arrowhead framework and implementation platform focusing on flexible Production Value Network (fPVN). The workshop provided a valuable forum for sharing knowledge and exchanging ideas on topics like cyber architecture, data models or AI code generation.

Event
Nov 14 2023

Collaboration at its best


AIMS5.0 is one of those projects where major findings from other research initiatives are taken to the next level, thus bringing them to life. The subject in question is a Digital Reference (DR), a holistic ontology for supply chains in the field of semiconductor. Its characteristics in turn, represent the self-image of the complete AIMS5.0 project as an intelligent collaboration between partners and other projects, for mutual benefit and growth. 

The Semantic Web model will help to clearly interpret and exchange countless information and data in a complex supply chain. This way, ambitious goals in fields like quality management or sustainability can easily be achieved in a new manner. In AIMS5.0, DR and other ontologies are subject to WP4, based on the idea that in the area of the Internet of things (IoT) ontology creates a language that is understood by humans and computers alike with the aim of smooth interaction throughout the entire supply chain.

Total network

A targeted open access platform shall improve a comprehensive data exchange, and the DR stems from the previous digitalisation project Productive4.0 forming the backbone for the intended platform. Moreover, AIMS5.0 benefits from the relevant research work in the following smaller but highly specialised project SC³, which exclusively focused on DR and ontology and created the further elaborated theoretical foundation for various industrial use cases in AIMS5.0.