Robotic Bin Picking in Three Dimensions

Aug 28, 2013

Automated bin picking helps manufacturers create a structured environment with parts. Fanuc has brought the M-2000iA to the automation field with iRVision 3D laser vision sensors, to locate and pick parts from a bin.


Bin pick­ing has tra­di­tion­al­ly been a prob­lem for man­u­fac­tur­ers because of the unstruc­tured envi­ron­ment of parts. When a pile of ran­dom­ly ori­ent­ed parts are stored un-ordered in bins, they need to be sep­a­rat­ed and then placed on con­vey­or belts that can adapt to the geo­met­ric prop­er­ties of the parts. The pre­vi­ous 2‑D nature of robots pre­sent­ed a chal­lenge to do this, but intel­li­gent vision-guid­ed robot­ic sys­tems can auto­mate the pick­ing process.

Fanuc Robot­ics devel­oped the M‑2000iA, equipped with iRVi­sion 3D laser vision sen­sors, to locate and pick parts from a bin. Fanuc’s intel­li­gent robot tech­nol­o­gy essen­tial­ly opened the door for freestyle bin picking.

Lay­ered vision was the first step for intel­li­gent solu­tions for bin pick­ing. When a 3‑D rep­re­sen­ta­tion was cre­at­ed, the image pro­cess­ing required to find key fea­tures of the prod­ucts was sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduced. The 3‑D image could be uploaded to the con­troller soft­ware, and then 3‑D cal­i­bra­tion could occur. The vision sys­tem and robot con­troller need­ed to be cal­i­brat­ed to the same glob­al coor­di­nate sys­tem to the spe­cif­ic con­tours of the parts to be picked. The pro­gram path could be cre­at­ed and then implemented.

Fraun­hofer IPA approached the prob­lem in anoth­er way: they devel­oped algo­rithms to rec­og­nize objects based on ana­lyz­ing 3‑D data, requir­ing only an adjust­ment of the robot’s grip­per for dif­fer­ent objects. The IPA soft­ware is based on the best fit of geo­met­ric prim­i­tives (shapes like spheres or cones) in mea­sured point clouds. Once the prim­i­tives are rec­og­nized, the object as a whole can be located.

Bin pick­ing vision sys­tems are even use­ful for enter­tain­ment: a group of stu­dents at Ohio North­ern Uni­ver­si­ty devel­oped a sys­tem to track an air hock­ey puck while the game is being played. Instead of pick­ing the puck and plac­ing it else­where, the robot was pro­grammed to pick the puck and hit it back to the oth­er side of the air hock­ey table. 

Vision and intel­li­gent sys­tems opened the door for a new lev­el of bin pick­ing automa­tion. Robots​.com sup­plies cus­tomers with bin pick­ing robots from mul­ti­ple robot brands. If you are inter­est­ed in pur­chas­ing a robot­ic bin pick­er, con­tact us today online or at 8777626881.

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