Open AccessFeature PaperArticle
An Ontology-Based Approach to Enable Knowledge Representation and Reasoning in Worker–Cobot Agile Manufacturing
Received: 20 September 2017 / Revised: 15 November 2017 / Accepted: 20 November 2017 / Published: 24 November 2017
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There is no doubt that the rapid development in robotics technology has dramatically changed the interaction model between the Industrial Robot (IR) and the worker. As the current robotic technology has afforded very reliable means to guarantee the physical safety of the worker
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There is no doubt that the rapid development in robotics technology has dramatically changed the interaction model between the Industrial Robot (IR) and the worker. As the current robotic technology has afforded very reliable means to guarantee the physical safety of the worker during a close proximity interaction with the IR. Therefore, new forms of cooperation between the robot and the worker can now be achieved. Collaborative/Cooperative robotics is the new branch of industrial robotics which empowers the idea of cooperative manufacturing. Cooperative manufacturing significantly depends on the existence of a collaborative/cooperative robot (cobot). A cobot is usually a Light-Weight Robot (LWR) which is capable of operating safely with the human co-worker in a shared work environment. This is in contrast with the conventional IR which can only operate in isolation from the worker workspace, due to the fact that the conventional IR can manipulate very heavy objects, which makes it so dangerous to operate in direct contact with the worker. There is a slight difference between the definition of collaboration and cooperation in robotics. In cooperative robotics, both the worker and the robot are performing tasks over the same product in the same shared workspace but not simultaneously. Collaborative robotics has a similar definition, except that the worker and the robot are performing a simultaneous task. Gathering the worker and the cobot in the same manufacturing workcell can provide an easy and cheap method to flexibly customize the production. Moreover, to adapt with the production demands in the real time of production, without the need to stop or to modify the production operations. There are many challenges and problems that can be addressed in the cooperative manufacturing field. However, one of the most important challenges in this field is the representation of the cooperative manufacturing environment and components. Thus, in order to accomplish the cooperative manufacturing concept, a proper approach is required to describe the shared environment between the worker and the cobot. The cooperative manufacturing shared environment includes the cobot, the co-worker, and other production components such as the product itself. Furthermore, the whole cooperative manufacturing system components need to communicate and share their knowledge, to reason and process the shared information, which eventually gives the control solution the capability of obtaining collective manufacturing decisions. Putting into consideration that the control solution should also provide a natural language which is human readable and in the same time can be understood by the machine (i.e., the cobot). Accordingly, a distributed control solution which combines an ontology-based Multi-Agent System (MAS) and a Business Rule Management System (BRMS) is proposed, in order to solve the mentioned challenges in the cooperative manufacturing, which are: manufacturing knowledge representation, sharing, and reasoning.