Queensland University of Technology
Motion planning and controlling of ultrafast robots for material handling and logistics

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SUMMARY

In today’s manufacturing, automation, warehousing, material handling, and logistics applications, industrial robot arm perform tasks such as moving objects from one location to another. The robot arm needs to pick up from location A and place at location B, as quickly as possible. However, as the speed of the motion increases, we face problems with the robot’s joint motors becoming overloaded or the top of the box being held by the robot tearing away from the rest of the box. To resolve this the robot must quickly determine the weight of the box and then plan a motion that takes this into account, preventing motor overload and damage to the box, while moving as quickly as possible and avoiding collision with fixed objects around the robot. 

BENEFIT – A description of the benefit of your work to Queensland (max 500 words)

The results of this research project will significantly improve productivity, lower costs, and increase the productivity of the logistics process.  It can be applied to manufacturers of logistics robotic equipment, such as Dorabot, a world-leading logistics robotics company with a development branch in Brisbane. This robotics research would benefit the robotics sector in Queensland and contribute to’ Queensland Advanced Manufacturing 10-Year Roadmap and Action Plan’ and initiative to collaborate with universities, businesses, and entrepreneurs to turn great ideas into commercial products and job creation. 

ROLE MODEL – Why do you think you are a good role model for women and girls aspiring to work in STEM? (max 500 words)
As a child I was always very curious, breaking and then joining things, to understand how things work. I remember my dad gifted me a shipbuilding craft book, and I enjoyed building ships with my few friends persistently. As I grew up, I excelled in sciences except for arithmetic. However, there was a sudden transformation from eighth grade onwards as soon as subjects such as Trigonometry and Algebra were introduced. After that, I never scored less than 100% and that left my teachers puzzled. In high school, during the timed quizzes I always used to solve trigonometry and calculus problems the fastest. I learned Physics through Resnick and Halliday’s book “Fundamentals of Physics” which led me to become interested in applying these principles. I received good grades in Physics as well as mathematics and chemistry, to secure admission to an Engineering college of high repute in Pune. During my last year of engineering, our project was awarded as Most Outstanding project. This award gave me the boost to work in embedded control systems and was a stepping stone toward my journey into control systems.  Later I started working as a Quality Engineer and this led to supply chain engineer roles, keeping my interest alive in controls and robotics.  This led me to pursue a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering with a thesis in robot kinematics from Wayne State University where I had an opportunity to publish a research paper in one of the high-ranked journals Procedia Manufacturing of SME. This was my first research step in Robotics! This learning on kinematics for an integrated FANUC robot arm with a 3D laser scanner motivated me to do a Ph.D. in industrial robotics. 
The short career break from industry followed by pandemics allowed me to think, improve programming skills, scout Ph.D. topics, and research articles on robotics and autonomous vehicles. While studying robotics literature, came across Dr. Peter Corke’s QUT Robot academy, and his research work, and became familiar with the Australian Centre for Robotic Vision and QUT Centre for Robotics (QCR). As this era focused on robotics and autonomous vehicles, as a curiosity researching robotics in connected autonomous vehicles. And then knowing about Dr. Peter’s vast research areas from the industrial arm, underwater, and aerial robotics submitted a small research proposal to Dr. Peter Corke to do a Ph.D. under his supervision. Shortly thereafter came across multiple Ph.D. topics offered with multiple programs at QCR. This current project topic is engaging, solves real-time robot manipulation problems in logistics, and would also allow learning about fast robot motion dynamics by using prior knowledge in robot kinematics, optimization, and control theory. Therefore, due to this topic, Professor, and the QCR research centre, intended to do M.Phil. research with an optimistic view to transfer from M.Phil. to Ph.D. at QUT.
I was initially naïve in robotics research, contributing to just a few areas such as robot kinematics, 3D scanning, and vision robotics during my master thesis research at Wayne State University. But my interest in these subjects grew and now I want to extend my knowledge in Robot dynamics by pursuing a Ph.D. My dedication, devotion, and willingness to learn new programming skills, are strong and I happily sacrificed my growing career and prospects in the industry. This would be a role model example to women in STEM, perhaps an inspirational story for women working in the industry and who want to pursue robotics research, but fear restarting their research career after substantial industry experience.
 
ENGAGEMENT – Describe any STEM promotion or engagement activities that you have undertaken, including both scientific and non-scientific audiences, particularly with women and girls (maximum 500 words)

A. Few glimpses of my scientific research projects in control systems and robotics. 
(i) Instrumentation and Control systems project: Developed measurement and control systems for biomedical applications during my final year, with the project title "Continuous Renal Replacement Therapy (CRRT) Control through Effluent Weight Measurement Feedback." Sponsored by King Edward Memorial hospital in Pune, India. My project contribution was to develop algorithms to measure and display the weights of effluents removed from the patient's body during the dialysis process and control algorithm for peristaltic pump motors to control the saline rate given to a patient by maintaining the effluent-saline ratio as required in the CRRT process. Developed skills in control systems, microcontrollers, C++, and computer graphics would be useful in my future research.  
(ii)Robot Kinematics: The research work 'Kinematics Modelling of an Automated Laser Line Scanning Systems' is my master thesis and journal publication topic. My research contained both computational modelling and experimental components. In this research, I integrated a 6DoF robot arm end-effector and laser line scanner to develop a testbed for experimenting with point cloud-based manufacturing quality monitoring methods. I demonstrated skills in MATLAB, vision robotics, and scholarly writing and these would lay the foundation for my future research.  

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