This paper presents a first attempt to assist manual welding with a physically interactive robot. An interactive control scheme is developed to suppress the vibrations of torch during the welding of novice welders. The torch is attached to the end-effector of a haptic-robot. Human and robot act together on the welding torch: the human controls the direction and speed; the robot suppresses the sudden and abrupt motions. The control scheme is developed by experimenting with an air-paint-brush. The painting process emulates the actual welding. Such an emulating environment is useful to surmount the difficulties of experimentation with actual welding. The impedance parameters of the control scheme are investigated. A damping value is determined for an effective vibration suppression and minimum human effort. A variable impedance control scheme is applied to ease the manipulation of the torch while not welding. The results of real welding of novice welders with and without robot assistance are presented. There is a considerable improvement in the performance of the welders when they are assisted with the robot. (C) 2011 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
- Human-robot interaction