Collaboration to test, validate industrial robots in manufacturing environment

Posted: December 8, 2020

As industry moves towards automating processes with robots and deploying sensor networks to monitor their performance, the ability to identify and predict uncharacteristic behavior is becoming critical to manufacturing operations.

Engineers at The Ohio State University and Texas A&M University recently earned a $250,000 SecureAmerica Institute (SAI) grant to help build greater digital trust within the national manufacturing industry.

Ohio and Texas are two of the three states with the largest manufacturing output in the United States, trailing only California. In this realm, both Ohio State and Texas A&M have established research centers and institutes to advance manufacturing and robotics: Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) and Texas A&M’s Institute for Manufacturing Systems and Center for Advanced Robotics. The two centers will share funding and divide the management of the grant.

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Lt. Gov. Jon Husted helps launch the Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Lab in September 2019

The collaborative effort, “Methodology for Predicting and Validating the Trustworthiness of Robots,” is led by Associate Professor Theodore Allen, who has a joint appointment in the Departments of Integrated Systems Engineering and Computer Science and Engineering.

The research team will develop a set of methods and associated technical tools to help manufacturers determine if the behavior of the robotic system is due to normal, or expected, operation or if the system outputs are disturbed due to the system being compromised by external cyber intrusions.

Allen serves as the project leader of analytics and related education efforts, while Texas A&M Industrial & Systems Engineering Professor Satish Bukkapatnam will be coordinating efforts among robotics faculty at his university. Vimal Buck, a senior researcher and lead electrical engineer at CDME, will serve as the Ohio State team's general project manager, leading integration of the robotic system into a cybersecurity testbed platform. CDME Senior Researcher Walter Hansen will manage pose verification and camera integration.

With Ohio Third Frontier program funding, the Institute for Cybersecurity and Digital Trust in January launched the Ohio Cybersecurity Initiative in Mobility and Manufacturing (OCIMM), which will be part of the collaborative effort.

“For this project, we are outfitting the Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems (AIMS) Laboratory at CDME with additional sensors and plan to leverage the infrastructure, faculty, and staff working with the OCIMM to solve cybersecurity-related problems in the area of robot trust validation,” said Buck.

CDME launched its AIMS Laboratory in September 2019 with multiple partners involved in funding and support, including the College of Engineering, Ohio’s Advanced Manufacturing Program (AMP), robot manufacturer Yaskawa, and welding equipment manufacturer Lincoln Electric. The lab is supported by numerous undergraduate and graduate research assistants with backgrounds in systems engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and mechanical engineering. 

CDME is building a cybersecurity testbed to enable research across the state using funding from a Regionally Aligned Priorities in Delivering Skills (RAPIDS) grant from the Ohio Department of Higher Education.

SAI competitively selected nine projects led by universities or private companies for a total funding portfolio of more than $5 million.

“The selected projects are grounded in SecureAmerica’s technical focus areas and domains,” said Rob Gorham, SAI executive director. “They will build on our core capabilities to expand the U.S. manufacturing and defense industrial base and maintain leadership in the development and deployment of innovative manufacturing technologies and products.”

Adapted from an article by Ryan Horns, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Category: Research