Abstract

During manufacturing, minor flaws in the surface of commercial airplane interior panels are often corrected using hand sanding, sometimes leading to repetitive stress injuries. Robotic sanding is an attractive option to mitigate these injuries. However, in preprogrammed automated sanding, both the sander path and the speed along that path are predetermined. Such fixed automation has limited effectiveness due to the part-to-part variability of surface condition. In addition, in typical fixed automation, a constant contact force and path speed are used to maintain constant material removal depth. Teleoperated robotic sanding allows a skilled operator to monitor the process and the condition of the surface in real time to correct the individual flaws. However, during teleoperated sanding, the path and speed along the path are inherently both time-varying and unknown a priori. The principal contribution of this work is to facilitate precision teleoperated sanding by developing a process model and control strategy that ensures constant material removal depth along the sanding path. Experimental results, with and without the proposed contact-force adjustments, for the same variable speed motion of the sander, shows 65% improvement in spatial variation of material removal with the proposed approach.

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