Monday, January 3, 2011

An unsexy vision-guided-robotics (VGR) application

Here’s an interesting machine vision story from the OptioIQ web site (that’s the online home of Vision Systems Design magazine, if you didn’t know.) Under the heading “Plumbing Parts Assembly” Andy Wilson (come on Andy, is that really the best title you could come up with? Working to a deadline?) describes, in glowing detail, a system recently installed at a UK maker of pipe fittings.

What I like about this application is the emphasis on keeping it simple. Rather than try to pick parts from a bin, the integrator opted to feed them out in single file on a conveyor. This of course makes it much easier to find a candidate for the robot to pick. (It helps that the pipe fittings, at least those shown in the embedded video,) have only one natural pose.)

The lighting is however something of a puzzle to me; I can’t help thinking there is a better way – maybe laser triangulation, or perhaps stereo cameras – but then again, it seems the integrator was striving for robustness, not sexiness.

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