There are many dual-armed robots in use in industry today for several purposes, ranging from packing to assembly to pick and place. Some of these robots have vision sensors and are known as visual-servo robots.
Visual-servoing has been around since the 1980s. This robotic “sight” gives robots the ability to improve their accuracy and performance in the workplace. The technique is fairly simple. The robot is programmed to interact with a certain item. A camera attached to the robot takes a picture of each item that comes into the robot’s work area. If the item does not match the visual-servo robot’s programmed algorithm, it is rejected.
Visual-servo robotic systems can range from the single-armed, six-axis robots that perform in factories every day. However, it is the visual-servo dual-armed robotic systems that are very interesting. The dual-armed robots, which already somewhat resemble humans, are able to now have the sense of sight to help them in their two-armed tasks, whether each arm is working independently, or they are working together.
By using the visual feedback in the visual-servo robot, the robot can track multiple items and handle different sized and shaped objects. This gives manufacturers the ability to change the items on the line without having to go through and reprogram every robot for each product they run.
While robots many never have real eyes like a human, visual-servo robot systems are getting them pretty close to the real thing. And with the way technology is going, who knows what the future may hold for robotic visual-servo systems.
RobotWorx, a certified integrator for FANUC, Motoman, ABB, Universal Robots, and KUKA robotics, has several robot models available for customization and purchase that can be outfitted with visual-servo systems to help the robot see.