This project is creating a novel modular, distributed, and highly scalable computational/physical system for multi-disciplinary research and applications in micro-manufacturing.

The approach is a robotic-agent-based distributed information architecture of a type not found in industry today. The distributed nature of the agent-based system requires neither centralized control nor a centralized database for its operation, thereby avoiding communication and code complexity bottlenecks. The goals are to i) dramatically reduce design, program, and deployment times compared with state-of-the-art systems, ii) greatly increase mechanical precision over existing methods, and iii) greatly reduce floor space requirements.

The architecture is highly generic, and is applicable to multi-step flow-through production systems for domains such as micro-fabrication of small parts, assembly of meso- and micro-scale products, synthesis of discrete amounts of chemicals, and analysis of biological materials. The system addresses several difficult human-computer interface issues making the system more accessible to researchers and students and much easier to use compared with conventional approaches. In this work, collections of computational/physical agents are designed and programmed through a virtual 3D representation that is registered in space and synchronized in time with the actual micromanufacturing system. The system includes several automatic procedures such as calibration and multi-agent coordination which reduces programming tedium. We expect the developed system to be a suitable research platform where multiple, concurrent experiments can be run by faculty and students. The intention is also to provide a working system which can serve as an example for industry. 

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