An experimental human-robot collaborative disassembly cell

Jun Huang*, Duc Truong Pham, Ruiya Li, Mo Qu, Yongjing Wang, Mairi Kerin, Shizhong Su, Chunqian Ji, Omar Mahomed, Riham Khalil, David Stockton, Wenjun Xu, Quan Liu, Zude Zhou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Disassembly is the first operation in the remanufacture, repair and recycling of products that have reached the end of their service life. Both productivity and flexibility should be considered when using robots to carry out disassembly due to the complexities associated with the products returned for remanufacturing. Human-robot collaboration is a flexible semi-automated approach to mitigate against the effects of uncertainties in the frequency, quantity and quality of those End-of-Life (EoL) products. This paper presents a new experimental robotic disassembly cell comprising two collaborative robots and a human operator. The robots and the operator can work safely in tandem for individual, parallel or common disassembly tasks in a shared workspace. Active compliance control is employed by the collaborative robots to achieve complex disassembly tasks and safe human-robot interaction. The human operator communicates with the robots using a new method based on touch sensing combined with position control. The paper first provides a short literature review of robotic disassembly and human-robot collaboration focusing on disassembly. It then describes the collaborative disassembly demonstration cell. Finally, the paper details a case study highlighting the capabilities of the cell. The case study shows that the automation of complex disassembly tasks is feasible and has the potential to release people from tedious and repetitive work.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107189
Number of pages11
JournalComputers and Industrial Engineering
Early online date2 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by Innovate UK (Contract Ref. 103667), United Kingdom and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council ( EPSRC) (Grant No. EP/N018524/1 ), United Kingdom.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Elsevier Ltd


  • Disassembly
  • Human-robot collaboration
  • Remanufacturing
  • Robotic cell
  • Robotic disassembly

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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