Jaguar-Land Rover Teams Up With Robots
Jaguar-Land Rover Teams Up With Robots! Recently Jaguar Land Rover announced plans to collaborate with robotics researchers at Harvard University as part of an effort to work towards developing next generation technologies to create super-human strength in the factory of the future. Some of these innovations include wearable soft robotics and “artificial muscles” that will boost human strength. The four-year research project focuses on foundational technologies such as soft acutuators, stretchable sensors, energy harvesting, and soft electronics.
“Our products and manufacturing plants are undergoing radical transformations. Our people are at the heart of our business and augmenting skills and capability will be key in delivering the factory of the future. Soft robotic wearables are a chance to further assist our people and improve their well-being, health and safety. The Harvard University research alliance provides Jaguar Land Rover with a fantastic opportunity to complement our in-house expertise by working closely with Harvard’s leading academics to ensure our future capability through new technologies,” said Wolfgang Stadler, Executive Director, Manufacturing.
Soft robotic systems incorporate active controls and soft components that can deform under pressure and return to their original shape. Soft robotic devices could uniquely enable close interactions of humans and automated machines accelerating operator capability, while reducing physical strain and risk of repetitive strain injuries. The research is part of a strategic research alliance between Harvard University and several Tata companies. The research will be led and directed by Conor J. Walsh, PhD, and Robert J. Wood, PhD, at Harvard’s Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering, where both are Core Faculty members.
“Our efforts in soft robotics have led to a number of enabling technologies that are widely applicable to medical and consumer devices. This new project with Jaguar Land Rover allows us to explore new soft robot technologies with an eye on industrial applications,” said Wood, who is also Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. “Collaborating on research with a global automotive manufacturer is extremely exciting as it gives us perspective on real needs in a sector traditionally served by more conventional ‘rigid’ robots. We envision soft robots operating in close proximity with workers on complex assembly tasks to enable unprecedented levels of efficiency and safety.”
“Harvard’s research strengths in soft robotics, wearable systems, and biomechanics have much to contribute to economic development, manufacturing efficiency, quality control, and worker safety,” said Isaac T. Kohlberg, Harvard’s Chief Technology Development Officer and Senior Associate Provost. “We anticipate that the close collaboration fostered by our Tata research alliance will also help surface interesting new research problems and inspire the kind of transformative discovery that shapes the future.”
“We’re eager to extend our experience and expertise in soft robotics and wearable robotics into a new domain,” added Walsh, the John L. Loeb Associate Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard Paulson School. “It’s exciting that this collaboration will yield opportunities to build and test new types of devices and technologies that can be worn like an item of clothing but provide robotic assistance for workers in industrial environments carrying out a wide variety of tasks.”