Proceedings PaperAir Force Manufacturing Science
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The Air Force Office Scientific Research (AFOSR) initiated a research thrust in FY 1982 to establish university based centers of excellence in Manufacturing Science. The objective of the initiative is to provide a focus for research on those interdisciplinary topics that can advance the capability of the Air Force, through its suppliers, to manufacture and refurbish small batch lots of high technology aerospace systems. Robotic assembly offers the possibility of rapidly reprogrammable assembly cells to fill the gap between hand assembly for prototypes and hard automation for very large production runs. The scientific disciplines needed to advance robotic assembly are usually distributed among several academic departments at most universities, e.g., electrical engineering, computer science, mechanical engineering, aeronautics, and industrial engineering. In early 1981, AFOSR began stimulating interest in creation of such centers through a seminar series and mailing of announcements of AFOSR interest. This process catalyzed the formation of faculty teams at several universities to proposed establishment of such centers. Stanford University and the University of Michigan were selected for Air Force sponsorship beginning in August 1982, SRI Incorporated supporting the Stanford research effort with their own research and a demonstration test bed. The Stanford Center for automation and Manufacturing Sciences is directed by Professor Robert Cannon, chairman of the Aeronautics and Astronautics Department and the Michigan Center for Robotics and Integrated Manufacturing is directed by Professor Daniel Atkins of the Electrical and Computer Engineering Department. Dr. David Nitzan is Director of the Robotics Department at the Robotics Department at SRI.