by Eric Lanke
In May 2016 I told you about 13 companies that signed on to a report supporting the inclusion of fluid power in an envisioned Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) on assistive and soft robotics. MIIs represent a multi-billion dollar government initiative to grow manufacturing capacity and jobs in the United States. Getting fluid power appropriately identified as an enabling technology for them is one of the strategic objectives associated with NFPA’s and CCEFP’s goal of creating new government funding for fluid power research and education.
Well, someone listened. The U.S. Department of Defense has announced a competitive funding opportunity for a new MII on Robotics in Manufacturing Environments. Several teams are now working up coalitions and proposals in an attempt to win that award, including one led by Carnegie Mellon University called the ARM (Advanced Robotics Manufacturing) Institute. Its mission will be to conduct industry-led applied R&D, to develop and deliver education and workforce training, and to provide access to shared capabilities through a nationwide network of regional innovation collaboratives.
NFPA has submitted a non-binding letter of support for the ARM Institute, as have several NFPA members and CCEFP supporting companies. NFPA has done so because we believe the ARM Institute has the potential to open up new opportunities in the use of fluid power in robot control, autonomy and mobility, human/robotic ecosystems, and other key areas that will have a profound impact on numerous U.S. defense and commercial manufacturing sectors—but only if NFPA and the members of the fluid power industry get engaged in helping to set its direction and research focus. Fluid power is clearly an enabling technology for collaborative robots, and the organizers of the ARM Institute have recognized the importance of and will welcome our industry’s participation.
The ARM Institute has set-up a website (https://www.arminstitute.org/), with much more information about itself and how to get engaged. We encourage any NFPA member with an interest in having their technology and products used in improving manufacturing effectiveness to review the material on this website.
Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or 414-778-3351 with any questions.
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