When Robots Assemble: Are They Feelin’ It?
What is required for robots to assemble parts as well as or better than humans? Senses.
The key sense for automated assembly is vision. The next most important sense is touch and feel.
Sound could be an important feedback for robots, as it already is for humans. But this feedback is not well developed for industry. Smell, taste and sound do not matter to any great degree for humans or robots in product assembly.
Flexfactory of Dietikon, Switzerland, and represented in North America by Futura Automation, is a line of “flexible feeders” that provide machine vision as an important aspect of any robotic part assembly solution. Cognex cameras are the default solution offered by Flexfactory, however customers successfully implement OEM cameras by companies such as Basler and Fanuc IRVision.
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One of Futura Automation’s partners is OnRobot. This company has introduced a wide range of gripping solutions for a variety of assembly and handling applications. The fingers of the gripper can be equipped with tactile sensors such that there is positive verification that a part is picked. In the future, the quality or position of the part gripped might also be possible. OnRobot also offers force sensors mounted to a robot wrist so that the force to press a part together can be sensed, or a collision can be avoided.