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Industrial Collaboration Project for Remote Dismantling of IEDs

In 2009, Quanser submitted a proposal to Defence Research and Development (DRDC) Canada’s Centre for Security Science (CSS) to design, develop and demonstrate a Haptics based Immersive Tele-robotic System (HITS), including an unmanned vehicle and multiple robotic manipulators to assist the Department of National Defence with the remote dismantling of improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Check out the following case study to discover why Kinova’s robotic arms met the necessary requirements, how they ensured the project’s success, and how this initial partnership spawned continual collaborations

The challenge

The team at Quanser had submitted a proposal to assist the Canadian Department of National Defence in developing tools to remotely dismantle improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and needed a partner who could develop tools to integrate technology with their existing platforms.

To complete this multi-year, multi-million dollar R&D project, Quanser chose Kinova as an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) for a robotic arm that would give them the best real-time performance from a PC-based environment, allowing them to remove the embedded DSP from the arm and control the actuators directly from the PC using their open architecture software.

The approach

The KINOVA® Gen2 Ultra lighweight robot (previously known as JACO 2) met many of the project’s requirements, so Quanser formed a partnership with us, in which we developed a custom version of the robotic arm to suit the company’s needs. Since both teams were actively involved in robotics R&D, we spoke the same language, giving us a strong connection in terms of skill-set and mindset from the start.

The first step in this collaboration was for Quanser’s team to communicate with one of the Gen 2’s actuators and, eventually, to scale their entire software interface to all six of the robot’s actuators. Quanser’s engineers worked with ours to get direct access to Kinova’s API and other tools. As both teams worked back and forth, Quanser was able to successfully develop its software interface to the Gen 2 robot in a relatively short time frame. These customizations also allowed for joint-space control, which is highly important in robotics research.

The objectives

  1. Develop robotic arms for Quanser that could be mounted on vehicles, offering the flexibility to develop advanced multi-body coordinated control strategies that would be adaptable in a wide variety of operational scenarios.
  2. Meet Quanser’s specific requirements regarding form factor, footprint, power requirements, weight and overall compatibility, all within a remotely-operated mobile ground platform.

The results

Kinova has customized a 4-DOF arm for Quanser’s undergraduate robotics labs, to introduce students to forward and inverse kinematics, Jacobian, motion control and other robotics concepts.

As part of this partnership, we’ve also developed a six-DOF arm with a higher communication rate and open architecture framework, providing researchers with an intuitive environment for designing and implementing control algorithms. Ultimately, the partnership between Kinova and Quanser led to the latter’s commercial offering to academia using Kinova’s previous version of its Mico 2 manipulator.

Kinova was willing to make a custom version of the JACO arm for us, and that was the beginning of our partnership... Over the years, we’ve been working with Kinova on other projects, but more as part of our core commercial business.

- Hervé Lacheray, Senior Project Manager, Quanser