Actuators: A block will be composed of two actuators: upper-side actuator that conveys objects, and lower-side actuator for self-movement of the block itself (reconfiguration actuators). Four types of actuators will be developed and used for the project. Three for upper-side will be investigated: ciliary type 2-D actuator, 1-D pneumatic, and pneumatic type 2-D actuator. For lower-side, we recently developed a reversible locking microsystem to assemble reconfigurable silicon a free-space micro-optical bench; our project, however, uses a different approach, so a breakthrough solution needs to be proposed.
Experimental platform: Hardware-in-the-Loop (HiL) is a methodology tool which is gaining increasing importance for testing a controller's functionality and communication. HiL can dramatically reduce development time by testing the controller inside a virtual environment in lieu of components, actuators or sensors. The HiL platform will be based on models of actuators, objects and sensors to reproduce the smart blocks.
Demonstrator for industrial applications: A prototype of a complete modular conveyor made of a hundred of blocks will be manufactured. It will allow to test, validate and demonstrate the performance of the Smart Blocks approach. The following properties will be tested:
- High speed transport
- High speed sorting
- Configuration change on a transport
- Failure recovery on a transport