Monday, December 16, 2013

Vision guided robots no longer remarkable?

You know a technology has passed some kind of acceptance threshold when it barely merits a mention. Such is the case with this application story, posted on the website of gauging specialist Renishaw and since reproduced on

Equator™ programmable gauges help create the ultimate automation cell for bearing machining and parts sorting” describes a number of systems that a Texas-based machining house is installing. The most interesting, to me anyway, is the last one. The article mentions, “…a cell that consists of two Equators, a FANUC LRMate 200iC 6-axis robot, multiple lanes of low-profile conveyor, a FANUC iR Vision system and an ATI quick toolchanger for the robot's end-effectors. The vision system tells the Equator what part number is being presented and what measurement program to run. Good parts are subsequently placed on the appropriate conveyor, and bad parts are placed on a scrap conveyor.”

The photo below shows the system. Notice how there seems to be no fixturing to locate the parts for robot pickup? My assumption is that, in addition to part recognition, the FANUC vision system is also figuring out where the part is, and sending the robot to those coordinates.

If I’m correct, this is a very cool cell. If the developers ever read this, I’d love to see a video of it in operation.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes you are right. You can see the arriving parts on the right of the picture (you can also see the red glow of the lighting) and you can indeed not see any fixturing. However, there is a gap in the incoming conveyor directly before the camera (or where I assume the camera looks) which makes me think the part does not move while being located and picked up. Even if it does move, this kind of job is extremely easy to solve these days. The most difficult thing is the communication between the robot, the plc and the vision system. The Fanuc vision system runs directly on the robot controller so you don't even have that problem. I have now done two vision guided robotics projects with Fanuc robots (I used Halcon instead of the Fanuc vision system though) and have been suprised how easy it was.