How to avoid collisions in scheduling industrial robots?
- In modern production facilities industrial robots play an important role. When two ore more of them are moving in the same area, care must be taken to avoid collisions between them. Due to expensive equipment costs our approach to handle this is very conservative: Each critical area is modeled as a shared resource where only one robot is allowed to use it at a time. We studied collision avoidance in the context of arc welding robots in car manufacture industry. Here another shared resource comes into place. When using laser welding technology every robot needs to be connected to a laser source supplying it with the necessary energy. Each laser source can be connected to up to six robots but serve only one at a time. An instance of the problem consists of a set of robots, a set of welding task, a number of laser sources, a distance table, collision information and a production cycle time. The goal is to design robot tours covering all task and schedule them resource conflict free such that the makespan does not exceed the cycle time. We propose a general model for integrated routing and scheduling including collision avoidance as well as a branch-and-bound algorithm for it. Computational results on data generated with the robot simulation software KuKa Sim Pro are also provided showing that our algorithm outperforms standard mixed-integer models for our application.