An Architecture for Agile Assembly

Christoph Bergler, Andreas Best, Ben Brown, Zack Butler, Mike Chen, Mike Cozza, Mike Currie, Rich DeLuca, Mark Dzmura, Michael Ehrenstrasser, Marc Endress, Gregory Fries, Jay Gowdy, Alan Guisewite, Benjamin Hollis, Ralph Hollis, Jeremy Horner, Chip Jansen, Octavio Juarez-Espinosa, Sudhir Katta, Stephan Korner, Mark Kryder, John Kim, John Kozar, Shinji Kume, Michael Kummer, Joheun Lee, Dong Liu, Cornelius Niemeyer, Jimmy Ma, Will Milner, Patrick Muir, Arthur Quaid, Alfred Rizzi, Mahedev Satyanarayan, Constantine Scarvelis, Maria Sensi, Rob Schlender, Yuan (Amy) Sun, Johannes Vierheilig, Jeroen Vos, Yangsheng Xu , Stella Yu, and Garth Zeglin

A disk drive

Picture a modern disk drive.

  • Dozens of parts, some requiring micron-level assembly precision.
  • The assembly line may take 4 months to design, build and debug.
  • The product, however, is likely to be obsolete within 6 months.

Rendering of a small minifactory

The primary goal of the Agile Assembly Architecture (AAA) is to shorten the time to bring a complex, high-precision product such as a disk drive from the prototype phase to the production phase from months to weeks, or even days. The reduction of time to market is the main point of all agile manufacturing. AAA will help to achieve this goal by having:

  • A distributed system of tightly integrated mechanical/computational agents endowed not only with information about their own capabilities but also with the ability to appreciate their role in the factory as a whole and negotiate with their peers in order to participate in flexible factory-level cooperation.
Minifactory agents
  • A unified interface tool that allows a user to select and order agents over the Internet and to assemble, program, and monitor them both in a simulated factory environment and in the real factory environment.
User interface tool

AAA incorporates factory-wide standard procedures, protocols, and well-structured agent autonomy to simplify the process of designing and programming large high-precision assembly systems. AAA takes advantage of agents' self knowledge and ability to explore their environments to make the transition between simulation and reality as painless and seamless as possible.

Real minifactory hardware

We are applying AAA specifically to tabletop-sized factories, or minifactories. The minifactories we are developing consist of modular elements such as high-precision platens, bridges for mounting modular robotic elements, precision 2-DOF manipulators, 2-DOF couriers, and parts feeders. Our prototypal application will be the assembly of high density "mechatronic" equipment.

For more information, please look at the following:
Where does this puzzle piece go?