We visited the Laboratory for Computational Sensing and Robotics at the Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering today, reciprocating a visit across town that some of the faculty and graduate students made to Marlin Steel several weeks ago to see our robots in process.
Several dozen PhD and graduate students and resident faculty are doing important work at one of the top robotics research centers in the country. Its projects range from improving space satellite maintenance to surgical breakthroughs. We’d like to work with them on ways to apply their knowledge to improving robotics for industrial application. Shrinking the time it takes to prepare a robot for a manufacturing job, for one, would be a huge step forward. It may never become as easy as simply flicking an “on” switch like a light fixture but the set-ups for quick runs need to be able to be accomplished in minutes, not days.
Lab Director Dr. Louis L. Whitcomb; Dr. Gregory D. Hager, chair of the computer science department, and doctoral candidate Jonathan Bohren led our tour on the university’s Homewood campus. Furthering the commercial application of the lab’s work would be a boon for it as well as, potentially, for companies such as Marlin Steel.
At the lab, on a commercially produced surgical robot called the da Vinci, Marlin President Drew Greenblatt used a console to control tiny remote arms that maneuvered small clay-like pieces on a dish several feet away.
Marlin Steel has invested in more than $3 million worth of robots in recent years to improve precision, productivity and safety. Automation helped the company achieve more exacting tolerances and dimensions of its products to serve clients in such industries as defense and biotechnology.