Guiding the Way in Automotive Plants
Vision-guided robotics commonly used in today’s automotive plants enables robots to “see” the object they are working on so they can perform the required activity accurately on/to an object that is not in a repeatable location.
Traditionally, programming a vision-guided robotics system has been a complicated process. In many cases, it required extensive calibration, structured lighting, multiple cameras, CAD drawings for each object, and vision engineers onsite to keep the systems running. In addition, most of these vision-guided robotics systems had a limited operating range linearly, and especially in the rotational axes. Many of the first systems only properly guide in X, Y, and Rz degrees.
Software Algorithms Change the Game
The system needed to be simple for the operator to use, robust enough to withstand industrial environments, and powerful enough to recognize and calculate both linear and rotational object displacement along and about all axes.
The company developed CortexRecognition® software — which gives blind robots human-like sight — with the introduction of visual recognition and guidance algorithms. This software allows for object recognition and 6-degrees-of-freedom robotic guidance (X, Y, Z, Rx, Ry, RZ) utilizing a single image from one industrial 2D camera. No structured lighting, multiple cameras, CAD data, or calibration grids are necessary.
Completing the System with Hardware
Several years ago, Recognition Robotics envisioned Robeye Jr, a hardware-software solution with Cortex-Recognition integrated for 3D robotic guidance. Because Robeye Jr operates on the factory floor and needs to withstand harsh conditions, it required a reliable and robust control system. This presented a challenge, and RRI partnered with the Solutions Engineering team at Phoenix Contact (Middletown, PA) to develop a custom control solution that could withstand the rugged requirements found in automotive plants.
At the heart of the system is a Phoenix Contact Valueline industrial PC. The 15” IPC can withstand the harsh environmental conditions in an automotive plant, so it can be mounted in the door of a small enclosure housing. The smaller footprint of the overall system design reduces the required floor space for RRI’s customers. The Valueline’s processors are configured with enough horsepower to run RRI’s sophisticated software algorithms very quickly.
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