Rensselaer Research Teams Receive Funding To Further Understanding of Robotics

Two School of Engineering projects secure nearly $900,000 from Department of Defense

Two new research projects from the School of Engineering at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute have been selected by the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute to receive funding to develop tools that will address critical aspects of robotic manufacturing technologies.

The projects were chosen as they focus on modernization priorities set by the U.S. Department of Defense while strengthening U.S. manufacturing and empowering workers.

“Advanced robotics is transforming manufacturing by bringing state-of-the-art modeling, automation and control theory, and data analytics into practice,” said Shekhar Garde, Dean of the School of Engineering. “These awards from ARM are a testament to the cutting-edge research in robotics being conducted by Rensselaer Engineering faculty and staff.”

The project led by John Wen, a professor and head of the Department of Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering at Rensselaer, aims to autonomously create a high-speed and high-precision curvilinear robot tool trajectory on a complex curved geometry using industrial robots with redundant degrees of freedom, to reduce or eliminate the current need for manual tuning. This project is motivated by robotic spraying and deposition manufacturing needs. Dr. Wen is joined in this research by partners from General Electric Research, Southwest Research Institute, and Wason Technology.

The project led by Glenn Saunders, a senior research engineer with the Manufacturing Innovation Center at Rensselaer, aims to develop fundamental technologies for robotic handling of energetic materials. It will demonstrate safety systems, robotic manipulation strategies, and designs that are immediately applicable to manufacturing of shaped charges, as well as more broadly to the production of other devices and products that use energetics. Partnering with Saunders are research teams from Schlumberger, Interface Technologies, and FANUC America.

The ARM (Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing) Institute, funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, leverages a unique, robust, and diverse ecosystem of 330+ consortium members and partners across industry, academia, and government to make robotics, autonomy, and artificial intelligence more accessible to U.S. manufacturers large and small, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen our economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. 

The project has also received significant matching funds from the New York Empire State Development Division on Science, Technology, and Innovation (NYSTAR).

Rensselaer was named in 2017 as a founding member of ARM, a Department of Defense-led manufacturing institute and part of the Manufacturing USA network that is working collectively to help revitalize American manufacturing and incentivize companies to invest in new technology development in the United States.