New lab taps AI to improve manufacturing

By Chris Booker, Ohio State News

A new lab at The Ohio State University will tap into the power of artificial intelligence to transform the future of manufacturing.

On Sept. 24, Ohio State’s Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence (CDME) opened the new Artificially Intelligent Manufacturing Systems Lab (AIMS) with the help of Lt. Gov. Jon Husted.

At the heart of the 1,500-square-foot lab space on the university’s west campus are three Yaskawa robot arms that stretch from floor to ceiling. Husted used the programmed robots to cut a ceremonial red ribbon to open the new lab.

The AIMS lab was developed with input from industry, national defense and energy laboratories and university experts. It’s a first-of-its-kind test site for industry and academia to study and develop manufacturing systems that work with, and are controlled by, different types of artificial intelligence.

“The AIMS lab aims, pun intended, to be the bridge to these two communities and provide each of them an environment that would be difficult to create on their own,” said TDAI affiliate Michael Groeber, associate professor in the Department of Integrated Systems Engineering.

Groeber and Walt Hansen, senior lead engineer for student programs within CDME, jointly manage the lab. The two have developed a testbed to engage engineering, business and social science departments from across Ohio State’s campus.

“What is happening here with Ohio State and the College of Engineering is exactly what needs to happen here in Ohio – collaborating with industry partners, working to build the talent of the future, innovating and trying to find ways to be competitive and serve their customers,” Husted said.

Senior Vice President for Research Morley Stone said the lab will help bring industry and research together to make sure Ohio State is educating the next generation of students the right way.

“As an educational institution, that is just an amazing call we have. How do we begin to change and think about the workforce of the future?” he said. “I think this [lab] has the great benefit of showing that we can adapt and drive that future for the state.”

The new lab fits into CDME’s core mission of working with industry partners in applied research and supporting undergraduate student development during that research. The center helps industry partners work with university labs and equipment, in turn helping students become familiar with their products.

Ismael Shalash, a fourth-year aerospace engineering major, said working in the new lab is preparing him well for his career path.

“The engineering and manufacturing industry is all moving towards robotics, and implementing artificial intelligence with robotics is definitely the next step in the industry,” he said.

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