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Improved robotic testing systems

New mathematical models can give us better and cheaper robotic systems. That is the conclusion of the thesis of Industrial PhD student Morten Mossige from ABB.

Morten Mossige in front of a ABB robot. Morten Mossige's Industrial PhD at the University of Stavanger is the first of its kind at ABB in Norway.

Mossige defended his PhD thesis at the University of Stavanger on 26 August. The thesis focuses on the testing of robotic systems.

Good mathematical models for the testing of robot installations are crucial because it is very expensive to correct errors that occur in the field. The objective of the doctorate was to develop methods that provide faster and better testing of robotic systems in the industry.

Better software for testing will help robot manufacturers deliver better products to their customers. The PhD thesis demonstrates that the models could reduce development costs and improve the quality of the robotic system, while at the same time providing increased "uptime" for the robots.

Design flaws revealed
The research in Morten Mossige's PhD was two-fold. The aim of the first part was to develop automatic testing methods for robotic systems.

Automatic testing can identify design flaws during the development and modification of control solutions for robots, which might otherwise take a very long time or even be impossible to detect through manual testing.

Fully automatic
The aim of the second part was to develop models for generating scheduling for a series of tests, which calculate the sequence in which tests should be performed and the computer on which the test should be carried out.

It also takes into account the fact that some tests cannot be performed simultaneously, even if they are conducted on different machines.

Both models are based on what is known as "Constraint Programming", they are designed to operate fully automatically on a test server (Continuous Integration), and they take into consideration the length of time that will be needed to identify a good solution.

First thesis under the Industrial PhD scheme
Mossige's supervisors were Jan Christian Kerlefsen, LBU Manager at ABB Robotics in Bryne; Dr Arnaud Godtlieb from Simula Research Laboratory and Professor Hein Meling from the University of Stavanger.

While working on his PhD, Mossige spent three days a month at the Simula Research Laboratory at Fornebu, a world-leading research centre within the field of software testing.

Morten Mossige's Industrial PhD is the first of its kind at ABB in Norway. The Industrial PhD programme is initiated and supported by the Research Council of Norway, with the aim of helping Norway to create more knowledge-based industry.

About the candidate
Morten Mossige originally comes from Nærbø in Jæren, Norway. He is a Principal Engineer at ABB Robotics in Bryne, where he has worked since 1997. The department specialises in the development of robotic paint systems. Mossige also works as a Senior Lecturer II at the University of Stavanger.

He has a Bachelor's degree in Telecommunication (1995) and a Master's degree in Cybernetics (2005) from the University of Stavanger. The research article entitled Using CP (Constraint Programming) in automatic test generation for ABB Robotics Paint Control System, which Mossige wrote in conjunction with his PhD, was voted Best Application Paper at CP 2014 (news article in Norwegian), a renowned international conference.

During his PhD work, he was affiliated to the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (IDE) in the Faculty of Science and Technology.

Text and photo: Leiv Gunnar Lie