Thales Alenia Space Bringing Robots into Clean Rooms to Work Alongside People – Satellite Today

Saphir Robotics Project

The Saphir Robotics Project. Photo: Thales Alenia Space

[Via Satellite 02-27-2015] As part of the company’s “Tomorrow’s Factory” initiative, Thales Alenia Space is deploying the Saphir Robotics Project in clean rooms tentatively starting the second half of this year. The project, developed collaboratively with KUKA and AKEO+, creates a workstation with two robotic arms: one to prepare the work and the other to install inserts. The robotic workstation aims to automate the installation of inserts in the composite panels used on the payloads of telecommunications satellites. Thales Alenia Space’s goal is to reduce the time and manpower required to bond the 3,000 inserts needed per panel from three weeks and four operators to one week with a single operator.

“When people and machines share a workspace they combine their cognitive and physical capabilities, paving the way for a step change in efficiency and agility,” Thales Alenia Space said in a statement.

The next stage in the plan is the addition of a fixed co-botic arm along with another arm on an autonomous vehicle, developed in partnership with KUKA, AKEO+ and ENSAM‘s Lille robotics laboratory. According to Thales Alenia Space, these collaborative robots, or “cobots” are able to safely interact with operators to expedite the satellite manufacturing process.

“The advent of large-scale projects, such as mega-constellations, entails various technological breakthroughs — and Thales Alenia Space is gearing up to meet these challenges on all fronts,” the company said.

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