Application of Product Family Design Tools to Explosive Ordnance Disposal Robots

Open Access
Donaldson, Ben
Graduate Program:
Industrial Engineering
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
Committee Members:
  • Timothy William Simpson, Thesis Advisor
  • product family design
  • product platforms
ABSTRACT This thesis details the application of product family design tools to a future line of robots. A number of design tools are discussed and applied using both marketing and engineering data related to the robot product family. The Applied Research Laboratory’s (ARL) trade space exploration tool – the ARL Trade Space Visualizer (ATSV) – is reviewed as well, followed by a discussion of how ATSV can use the conclusions in this thesis to guide exploration of the robot family design space. The primary data provided for this thesis included surveys of existing robots’ abilities, as well as conceptual mission scenarios that encompass the requirements for the family of next-generation robots. Each scenario had dozens of quantitative requirements and functional needs along with accompanying data to score the effectiveness of existing robots. In order to reduce the number of variables for trade space exploration, the scenarios were grouped using fuzzy C-means clustering with respect to the scenarios’ requirements and functionality into 9 clusters based on the best fit to the data. Histograms were also created for the individual scenarios and clusters to visualize the resulting distributions, allowing noteworthy and difficult outliers to be quickly identified for future discussion. To connect the mission scenarios to existing robot architectures, two quantitative design tools were applied to three existing third-party robots. The first design tool, Generational Variety Index (GVI), used matrices to score future market needs that are not currently satisfied and determine which subsystems/modules will most likely need to be redesigned to satisfy these needs. The second design tool, Design Structure Matrix (DSM), examined internal connections and interfaces in the robots to determine how redesign in one subsystem would affect other subsystem. Both design tools highlighted the subsystems and specifications that were most influential (or most influenced). The final analysis combined both the mission scenario data and the design tools to examine each subsystem or specification for use in the robot platform. For each subsystem, the analysis explains whether it could satisfy all scenarios in a single (or a few) forms, if standardization is possible in certain dimensions to reduce engineering costs; and for the more difficult-to-standardize subsystems, what redesign would make standardization more possible. The conclusions, meant as educated suggestions for further investigation in ATSV, are listed by subsystem and specification.