ARM Institute Picks Team to Develop Virtual Reality to Help Manufacturing Workers Get Robot Credentials

The ARM Institute has awarded funding to project to develop prototype that would help current factory workers earn Industry 4.0 credentials.


Palletizing robot simulation for skills assessment.
The U.S. Department of Defense and the ARM Institute have chosen SimInsights, APT Manufacturing Solutions, and IBL Education to develop virtual reality for assessing robotics skills.

The Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing, or ARM, Institute today said it has selected a project team to develop a virtual reality prototype for assessing and credentialing manufacturing workers.

The project is intended to demonstrate how VR and other technologies can help workers earn credentials based upon the knowledge, skill, and abilities (KSAs) gained through on-the-job training in facilities using robotics and automation, often referred to as Industry 4.0.

“Many potential and current manufacturing technicians have prior KSAs that can easily be upskilled for robotics and automation,” stated Linda Wood, senior certification manager at the ARM Institute. “Providing a low-cost testing mechanism to validate competency level achievement in potential and current robotic and automation manufacturing employees will shorten the time to productivity for employers.”

“I am excited by the caliber of expertise collaborating with the ARM Institute as we attempt to push the limits of virtual reality to include its use for manufacturing competency assessment,” she said. The Pittsburgh-based organization did not specify the amount of funding.

Three firms to develop skills-assessment simulation

The ARM Institute said it will work with the selected organizations to develop a robotic technician test to be delivered via VR and/or similar simulation capabilities. They will incorporate artificial intelligence to optimize the assessment capabilities in future versions of the tool, said the organization.

Lake Forest, Calif.-based SimInsights Inc. will provide the VR environment creation and assessment creation for the project. 

“It is a privilege to collaborate with the ARM Institute on this innovative project, as it is aligned with our mission of teaching and assessing skills using technology,” said Rajesh Jha, founder and CEO of SimInsights. “We are excited about leveraging our National Science Foundation-supported R&D on HyperSkill, a virtual and augmented reality-based simulation platform for personalized manufacturing training.”

APT Manufacturing Solutions Inc. will provide the real-world environment to be recreated virtually, as well as subject-matter expertise in creating an assessment within its environment. Hicksville, Ohio-based APT said it has been providing high-tech solutions to manufacturing problems for over 25 years. 

New York-based IBL Education will provide integration capabilities for the system to be hosted on the Open EdX platform. 

“IBL Education is thrilled to partner with the ARM Institute and the Department of Defense [DoD] by providing its learning ecosystem with AI and VR at scale,” said Miguel Amigot II, chief technology officer of IBL. 

The ARM Institue said the prototype, along with documentation on lessons learned, will be available to its members in the fall of 2022.

ARM Institute, DoD invest in U.S. competitiveness

The ARM Institute is a Manufacturing Innovation Institute (MII) funded by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and is part of the Manufacturing USA network. The public-private consortium has more than 300 members and partners across industry, academia, and government.

ARM's goal is to make robotics and AI more accessible to U.S. manufacturers of all sizes, train and empower the manufacturing workforce, strengthen the U.S. economy and global competitiveness, and elevate national security and resilience. The DoD provides funding for the institute.

“Since 2017, the ARM Institute is leading the way to a future where people and robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges and to produce the world’s most desired products,” said the organization.

The OSD Manufacturing Technology (ManTech) Program provided funding for the assessment project, which is designed to use the investment made by ManTech in the Open EdX learning platform.

The Open edX platform is large and powerful, but that can bring confusion. What are the major components of the software, and what do they do? The software is used by, but edX is different than Open edX, another point of confusion.

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Palletizing robot simulation for skills assessment.

Robot Technologies