Vision Sensors vs. Vision Systems in Industrial Robotics

Vision Sensors vs. Vision Systems in Industrial Robotics

If you need to give your industrial robots human-like sight and hand-eye coordination, you need to understand the difference between robotic vision sensors and robotic vision systems. Here is a quick Q&A to help you decide which technology is best for you.

What Are Robotic Vision Sensors?

A. A robotic vision sensor is a self-contained unit that can feature a combination of an integrated camera, lights and a controller (and sometimes a laser). Robotic vision sensors are designed for simple installation and operation. They are especially suited for straightforward operations, such as inspections on an assembly, that involve a yes-or-no, pass-or-fail answer.

Robotic vision sensors capture an image of an object with a camera and then calculate the characteristics of that object, such as its length, width, height, position and area. They perform tasks such as:

  • Detect the presence or absence of parts
  • Determine the orientation of parts
  • Calculate the accuracy of parts
  • Verify shapes
  • Verify colors
  • Recognize characters (words on a label, for example)

Q. What Is a Robotic Vision System?

A. A robotic vision system is more complex than a robotic vision sensor. It typically consists of a camera and lighting system mounted on a robot and connected to a device, such as a PC or tablet. The device uses specialized software to process images and interpret what the robot sees. Robotic vision systems allow industrial robots to:

  • Assemble products
  • Measure
  • Unload pallets

Q. What are the Advantages of Robotic Vision Sensors in the Manufacturing Process?

A. Robotic vision sensors have many advantages depending on the specific usage:

  • Easy to install
  • Easy to configure
  • Lower cost than robotic vision systems
  • Ideal for simple, repetitive tasks

Q. What are the Advantages of Robotic Vision Systems in the Manufacturing Process?

A. Like their counterparts, vision-guided robotic systems have specific advantages based upon their intended usage. They:

  • Enable robots to perform complex tasks
  • Recognize parts (not just detect if they are present)
  • Guide robots to operate in multiple dimensions
  • Guide material handling equipment
  • Position products, parts and materials
  • Are ideal for complex tasks

Q. When Should We Use a Robotic Vision Sensor?

A. Use a robotic vision sensor when you need a simple way to inspect parts or products, and when you need a device that is easy to implement and intuitive to use. They can also be used when all that you require is a simple yes/no or pass/fail answer.

Q. When Should We Use a Robotic Vision System?

A. Use a robotic vision system when you need to guide a robot to minimize or eliminate custom engineering, expensive fixtures or doing traditional automation.


The greatest advantage of robotic vision systems over robotic vision sensors when it comes to industrial robotics is flexibility. One robot equipped with a robotic vision system can do the tasks of multiple robots fitted with simple sensors. Robotic vision systems give your robots human-like sight and hand-eye coordination and make them smarter. That increased flexibility soon translates into greater productivity and profitability, as well as decreases unplanned downtime.

Learn more about choosing the right robotic vision system, or get in touch to discuss your needs.

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