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In today's fast-moving automobile market, any reduction to bring a new car model to market can provide an important competitive advantage. To speed up cardesign process, CAD systems are used. An image of almost photographic realism can be created and quickly changed from mathematical data. The next stage is quickly converting that mathematical model into a 3-D physical model of the vehicle design, for visual evaluation. ROBOCUT system is the first industrial application utilizing a robot in the early, 3/8-scale concept model phase of the vehicle design process. It is a highly effective, specialized math-based system to drive and control a robot directly from CAD math surface models. ROBOCUT conducts an optimal path planning in Parametric Space and it generates cutting paths in real time to enable a robot to cut a scale clay (or other materials such as styrofoam, wood, wax, etc.) model of a vehicle design in a fraction of time required by either manual sculpting or machine milling. It also leads to better quality of surfaces and allows use of less expensive equipment. To cut large parts, a (6+1)-axis robot is constituted by a 6-joint GMF S-700 regular robot arm moving on a linear servo-track. An optimal path generation technique for the redundant robot is developed. With a video tape demonstration, the advanced robotic system developed at General Motors Research Labs. is presented. It shows the robot cutting process and final surface quality. By comparing with original CAD graphic image, it also shows that the car designer's intention is well preserved by the cut clay model.
Yilong Chen received his M.S. and D.Sc. degrees in Systems and Control from Washington University, St.Louis, Missouri in 1981 and 1984, respectively. Dr. Chen joined General Motors Research Laboratories in 1984 as a Senior Research Scientist. Since 1988, he has been a Staff Research Scientist and in charge of ROBOCUT and ROBOPAINT projects. His current research interests include robot control and CAD/CAM.
In 1987, Dr. Chen received a "Award For Creative Development of A Technical Innovation" from NASA. He was elected as an IEEE Senior Member in 1989. He is currently an associate editor of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Magazine.
Dr. Chen served as a Session Chairman on International Symposium on Robot Manipulators in 1986, and on 26th IEEE Conference on Decision and Control in 1987. He also served as a Program Committee member on IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation in 1991, and a Session Chairman in 1986, 1990, 1991 and 1993 respectively.