UCL Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering


Light Controlled Factory

This is a EPSRC-sponsored joint project with Bath and Loughborough Universities.

1 September 2017

The project builds on a track record of large volume metrology, sensing expertise and robotic tracking from UCL to prototype accurately-tracked robotic inspection systems required for next generation digital manufacturing spaces.

UCL’s task is the real-time measurement and positioning of parts and machines within an assembly factory using large numbers of low-cost cameras. Our goal is to simultaneously track multiple objects at accuracies between 0.5mm to 10µm within large factory spaces with low-cost photogrammetric techniques. The real-time six degrees of freedom information we produce (X, Y, Z, roll, pitch, yaw) at data rates from a few tens to a thousand locations per second has to be delivered under challenging factory conditions where variations in physical stability and thermal changes in the factory atmosphere have to be accommodated.

Now in its final stages, the project focus is on producing a series of full-scale demonstrators at each institution. The UCL demonstrator is designed to highlight the capability of low-cost photogrammetry to track a unique metrology sensing large volume snake robot with a reach of over 6m.

This work is closely linked to the €44.8m Airbus / Innovate UK-funded Advanced Wing Integration Centre being constructed at Filton near Bristol. Working with Airbus and the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, UCL’s role is to provide the metrology expertise needed to ensure the facility is able to meet exacting structural test capabilities required by Airbus both now and into the future.

Future manufacturing requires a step change in our capability to accurately measure the manufactured shape, location and orientation of components that are assembled together to form large assemblies of parts such as aircraft wings. This project builds on our expertise in large volume high accuracy measurement (metrology) using low-cost imaging sensors to create a step change in accuracy at significantly lower cost than current sensors such as laser trackers and laser radar units.