Vision technology for Cobots

Jul 3, 2017

The interaction between humans and robots in the factory is growing steadily. The deployment of traditional industrial robots comes with big investments and requires lots of special skills. And once they are set up, they will do the same thing over-and-over again, for a very long time.

Cobots on the other hand, are flexible, lightweight and user-friendly robots. They are easy to deploy and re-deploy, without the need for programming experience. The targeted applications cover, among others: packaging & palletizing, machine tending, pick & place, assembly and quality inspection. The world’s first cobot was launched in 2008 by the Danish company Universal Robots (UR). Today, vision technology enables the cobots to perform a new variety of tasks.


Cobots lowering the barrier for automation


In combination with a low initial investment and a very short payback time, cobots enable companies to do their first steps towards industry automation. Just like Hestra Teknik, a Swedish company that works with cutting processes. The cobot is used for part feeding to a CNC machine and thus eliminates the need of constant availability of an operator. For exact robot guidance, Hestra Teknik uses the Inspector PIM60 2D camera from SICK. It handles the localization of the parts on a conveyor belt and the UR cobot picks the parts and feeds it to the machine. With the Inspector PIM60 they are able to store configurations of up to 32 different parts on the vision sensor itself.



Enabling more applications with vision

When adding “eyes” to the robot, there are a lot more things you can do. As a pilot customer, Hestra Teknik integrated the SICK Inspector URCap software, a UR+ plugin, into the robot controller. With this software, it is easy to add the full functionality of the Inspector PIM60 to the robot application: The Inspector PIM60 is an embedded vision sensor, which means that all calculations are done on the sensor itself, and there is no need for an external computer.




The natural step to take with a vision sensor and a robot is to enable robot guidance applications: After the quick calibration routine, the URCap software can output pick-points in the robot’s coordinate system; and in addition to outputting coordinates, the Inspector PIM60 enables inspection and measurement tasks for pass/fail-criteria or trending.

The SICK Inspector URCap software offers an easy-to-use interface for the Inspector PIM60 and robot integration. There is no need for setting up a additional PLC or other communication system This solution offers an accessible way to reduce monotonous work for the operator and allows the user to expand the use of collaborative robots.

Andreas Behrens

Head of Product Management Identification & Vision

As the Manager of the Marketing & Sales Business Unit Andreas Behrens and his team are responsible for, among other things, the market-oriented and forward-looking expansion of the product range in the Identification and Vision Technology Department. As Head of Market Product Management he already had been in charge for the complete portfolio of SICK.


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