Footwear industry in Europe is one of the most important sectors in terms of the number of people employed. A large part of the production of such shoes is still handcrafted. One of the main difficulties to automate this area is the high number of products variants due to a large number of models, sizes, and colors. Additionally, footwear manufacturing requires complex manufacturing and assembly processes as well as extensive labour demand during quality and packaging operations.
The ROBOFOOT project addresses the urgent need for intelligent solutions to automate complex and still mostly manual processes in industrial production. In this case, the project ROBOFOOT aims at introducing robotics on the manufacturing of footwear. The project develops robotic solutions to optimize and automate the production process in order to allow higher quality products at competitive prices. The target area is the production of fashion and other high added value shoes where Europe still maintains its leadership.
Within the project, DFKI-RIC will address mainly the problem of manipulating shoes, which as deformable objects require of high levels of dexterity. More specifically, DFKI-RIC will evaluate the use of multi-fingered hands and dual-arm robots in these scenarios. In order to provide the robot with flexibility, a learning component will allow the possibility to learn new manipulation skills and task sequencing.