Assembly and integration are traditionally procedural activities, carried out in line with strict protocols to ensure lowest failure rates and highest quality. Up till recently the procedures to be followed are presented to technicians in two dimensional form, be it paper or tablet. Not only does this create constant interruption of the process to be followed as the technician switches between procedure and instruction, it furthermore completely negates any possibility for automation of the assembly process itself. Tackling any of these two aspects therefore would directly increase overall efficiency and lower cost at similar or even increased quality levels.
Augmented Reality offers the potential to provide a hands-free, heads up digital procedural manual that can be used in operations. Integrated with different adjacent technologies AR can truly be a gamechanger in high tech industries when it comes to automation and digitisation.
Recognising the importance of Augmented Reality, ATG Europe has started a self-funded activity to develop an Augmented Reality tool aimed at supporting and automating mechanical assembly and integration processes. As a natural application field, at least in the space domain, the tool is currently targeted at processes closely related Cubesat integration.
As with the development of our VR training tool, ICARUS, the AR4AIT tool adds significant value in this commercial space domain, mainly due to its increasingly recurrent nature (product and procedure wise) and its need for competitiveness.
Therefore, as for the ICARUS development, ATG Europe will make use of real and relevant user requirement as well as procedures for assembly and integration and the geometrical models of the actual hardware to be assembled.
For ATG this development fits in a larger development that feeds into a longer-term goal of supporting assembly and integration with the use of immersive technologies. Within the frame of this larger development, ATG has already developed a Virtual Reality powered conceptual design tool for harnessing purposes (VR-HADES) and is currently developing a VR powered assembly and integration training tool (ICARUS).
By building up the above-mentioned suite of tools, ATG expects to develop a competitive position in the space domain, primarily in the CubeSats hardware integration, but eventually also in other sectors such as subsystem integration in various industries.