The University of New Orleans received
a $3.6m grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects agency
last week to develop automated tools for programming robots to weld ship components. The grant is funded by the Office of Naval Research.
Much of the work will take place at the UNO Maritime Technology Center of Excellence at Northrop Grumman Ship Systems Avondale Operation.
The new tool will program the robots directly from a three-dimensional model.
UNO will work with Sandia National Labs in New Mexico and Spatial Corporation, a Colorado-based industrial software business that specializes in three-dimensional models, as well as several major shipyards to improve current technology, Trahan said.
UNO plans to take on a commercialization partner, a company that will take the new tools and market them throughout the industry, Bordelon said. To meet that goal, the institution has formed a Technology Advisory Board which includes about 20 shipyards and 10 vendors, he said.
Web casts will be used to communicate the project information to the advisory board.
UNO expects to be doing demonstrations for the industry in about 10 months, which means robotic welders in shipyards could be a reality within two to three years.