ARM Institute virtual summit tackles robotics for pandemics and beyond

The Robot Report

ARM Institute COVID-19 summit

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute, a Department of Defense Manufacturing Innovation Institute, opened registration for the ARM Exchange Technical Summit: Robotic Solutions for Pandemics & Beyond. This event is free to attend and open to the public. You can register here if interested.

The ARM Institute is the nation’s leading collaborative in robotics and workforce innovation, working at the confluence of industry, government, and academia. Structured as a public-private partnership, the ARM Institute and its member organizations accelerate robotic technologies and education solutions to strengthen the U.S. industrial base and secure U.S. manufacturing resiliency.

The Institute is delighted to welcome Mr. Rob Gold, Director, Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering, as our keynote speaker.

This virtual summit will highlight the impact, success stories, lessons learned, and outputs from nine pandemic-focused technology projects. These projects were funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense through a Special ARM Institute Project Call to mitigate the current COVID-19 pandemic and prepare the nation for future pandemics and similar crises. Throughout the event, attendees will learn more about robotic and artificial intelligence projects that address disinfection, diagnosis, and personal protective equipment (PPE) assembly. Attendees will have the opportunity to view demonstrations and connect with the project teams and other attendees.

The virtual event will begin at 10:00 AM ET and conclude at 3:00 PM ET on August 30, 2021. A detailed agenda can be found below.

10 AM – Welcome
Ira Moskowitz, ARM Institute CEO

10:10 AM – Impact of the Projects for the Department of Defense
Rob Gold, Director, Technology and Manufacturing Industrial Base, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Research and Engineering

10:30 AM – Metrics & Impacts: How the ARM Institute Measures Success
Cara Mazzarini, ARM Institute Tech Portfolio Manager and Adam Norton, UMass Lowell, ARM Institute Metrics & Evaluation Working Group Lead

10:55 AM – Project Summaries Introduction: Mitigating COVID & Preparation for Future Pandemics

11 AM – Autonomous Robotic Spraying and Disinfection in Warehouses & Shipyards
Logistics and support operations have played a vital role in supporting the nation by supplying medical supplies and essential goods to millions of Americans. To control the spread of COVID-19 in these facilities, more frequent and reliable disinfection is required. This project developed an autonomous warehouse disinfection system that can automatically navigate, locate, and disinfect heavily touched surfaces and potentially contaminated areas. This process minimizes the human role in potentially harmful disinfecting procedures while reducing costs.

11:15 AM – Mobile Autonomous Industrial Disinfector (MAID)
This project developed an autonomous mobile robot with a mounted collaborative multi-axis robotic arm capable of manipulating both a disinfection system and a sensor suite. The system will identify areas that need disinfecting, execute the disinfecting process, and keep records of the cleaning tasks completed.

11:30 AM – Autonomous Mobile Capability for Multi-Room Disinfecting Robot
The Decon–X (DX1) disinfecting system has proven its effectiveness in Europe, but until this project lacked the mobility and autonomy to disinfect spaces without an operator. This project added mobile autonomous capabilities to the DX1 room disinfection system to automate the consecutive treatment of multiple rooms and spaces within workplaces. The addition of mobility and autonomous navigation to the DX1 will enable the robot to move from room to room and perform a series of treatments with little to no human intervention.

11:45 AM – Robotic Application of Anti-Microbial Copper Coatings
Copper-coated surfaces rapidly kill coronaviruses like COVID-19, but these have not been widely manufactured due to low demand. Robotic cold spraying of copper will enable rapid production to meet the new demand. Wide adoption of copper-coated surfaces will reduce the spread of COVID-19 without the need for frequent cleaning. The robotic application of copper coating will improve the manufacturability of these parts. This project will develop a robotic anti-microbial copper application system (cold spray), integrating a scanner and developing an automated path generation and QA tools to apply the copper coating to components like a doorknob, hospital bench, cart, handrail, etc.

12:20 PM – Rapid Robotic Diagnostic Kit Discovery
While many tests for COVID-19 have been developed, the U.S still has not reached the scale necessary for effective management and control. COVID-19 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests have long turnaround times (2-3 days for lab results). Rapid development of COVID-19 Lateral Flow Assay (LFA) tests would dramatically aid the United States’ efforts towards large-scale testing for current and future pandemics. LFA test strip evaluation requires at least two technicians – one to run the assay and one to interpret results using analyzers that image and quantify individual strips. This project developed a solution utilizing advanced vision systems and flexible robots to accelerate LFA test development by automating LFA test-strip evaluation.

12:35 PM – Rapid PPE Production through Automation & Robotics
The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical vulnerabilities in the global health care supply chain. At the beginning of the pandemic, U.S manufactures were unable to meet the significant demand for PPE, resulting in shortfalls and long lead times. This project improved existing automated mask production in the US by including robotic automatic visual inspection, picking-and-sorting, and end-of-line packing and palletizing.

12:50 PM – Built-By-Bot: Customized Mask Assembly using Robots
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified cloth masks as playing a vital role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, but the supply has not been able to keep up with the demand. Robotic sewing presents a technical challenge because it requires the manipulation of flexible materials, fine motor control, and precise part recognition. This project built upon the outputs from other ARM projects to automate the robotic production of cloth face masks for PPE.

1:05 PM – Swarm Robotics for Large Structure Manufacturing

The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has identified cloth masks as playing a vital role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, but the supply has not been able to keep up with the demand. Robotic sewing presents a technical challenge because it requires the manipulation of flexible materials, fine motor control, and precise part recognition. This project built upon the outputs from other ARM projects to automate the robotic production of cloth face masks for PPE.

1:20 PM – Automation of Characterization and Evaluation (ACE) in PPE Manufacturing
The quality assurance procedures for PPE, such as facemasks, is labor intensive and time consuming. Sample testing of PPE has become a priority not only in manufacturing plants but also at medical centers. The national labs providing validation testing for PPE are reporting lead times up to 75 days due to lack of qualified technicians and overwhelming volume of new requests. This project developed a robotic system to automate the quality assurance tests for PPE inspection, thus improving the performance, productivity, and efficiency of PPE manufacturing in the United States.

1:35 PM – Technology Transition Opportunities
Learn how you can leverage the technology developed through these ARM Institute-funded projects.

2-3 PM – Interactive Project Team & Attendee Networking
Connect with our project teams in break-out rooms to ask more questions, join general networking rooms, and connect with ARM Institute staff members.

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