Advanced science.  Applied technology.


Large Workspace Robotics

Large workspace robotics is a specialized area focused on processing large workpieces or areas that require nontraditional reach and mobility that are not possible with traditional robot systems. Leveraging over 30 years of robotic design experience, Southwest Research Institute is uniquely positioned to envision, design, build, commission, and support requirements-driven robotics systems. Using world class facilities located in San Antonio, SwRI’s Manufacturing and Robotics Technologies Department develops custom systems that serve a wide variety of clients in aerospace, marine, construction, ground vehicles, oil and gas, material handling, infrastructure, and manufacturing.

Large Robot Applications & Solutions 

Traditional robotic system designers often utilize commercially available equipment that requires sacrificing performance characteristics or making the application infeasible. As an independent research and development organization, our large workspace robot experience can analyze the application requirements that result in simpler, purposeful, and economical designs.

illustration depicting a robotic arm performing under-wing sanding on military aircraft.

A large-scale sanding robot for aircraft de-paint.

Our specialized techniques and tools include the following:

  • Mobility solutions allow the robot to move to a specific location of interest on large assets or within a factory floor.
  • Localization is the process required to perceive the new location and objects of interest for the application.
  • Reach requirements are paramount to a successful robotic implementation. By utilizing a combination of robotics configurations, the most difficult reach applications feasible.
  • Custom design brings the appropriate configurations into reality as SwRI has the expertise to engineer the specialized solution.
  • Custom process development is frequently required when automating tasks. Specialized expertise in optics, computer vision, and perception can understand the unique characteristics of the target and monitor the efficacy of the process.
  • Broad technical expertise: Our robotics experts can team with other domain experts such as chemical engineers or physicists to reduce project risk.
Blue robot comprised of two segments - the first is vertical with XYREC in white lettering; the second is horizontal to the ground with a laser attached. The robot is using a laser to remove an aircraft coating
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