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11 JULE 2023

Robot Vision System: Enhancing Efficiency in Robotics

Discover the power of a robotic vision system in increasing efficiency and precision in robotic applications and learn how robot vision works.

What is Robot Vision

Robot vision is a groundbreaking technology that enables robots to "see" and perceive their surroundings. By incorporating a vision system into robotic operations, machines gain the ability to identify, navigate, inspect, and handle various tasks. A typical robotic vision system consists of one or more cameras connected to a computer, equipped with specialized processing software that aids in interpreting visual data. This data is then utilized by the robot to execute specific instructions provided by manufacturing personnel.

Robot Vision vs Machine Vision

Robot Vision and Machine Vision are two closely related fields that exhibit similarities. However, Machine Vision encompasses a broader scope as it encompasses not only Robot Vision but also various other applications of this technology in production settings. It is frequently employed in manufacturing environments to guarantee quality control and enhance production efficiency.

Robot Vision vs Computer Vision

While Robot Vision is primarily concerned with visual perception for robots and autonomous systems, Computer Vision is an even more comprehensive concept. It provides the extraction of meaningful information from visual data through the utilization of algorithms and techniques.

Computer Vision is capable of analyzing images and videos to identify, interpret, and comprehend objects, scenes, and patterns. It goes beyond the realm of robotics and finds applications in various fields such as image recognition, video surveillance, medical imaging, and augmented reality.

Robot Vision Applications

The applications of robot vision systems are vast and varied, enabling robots to perform a multitude of tasks with precision and efficiency. Some notable applications include:
Product sorting
Robot vision systems can identify and sort products based on various criteria such as shape, color, or size, streamlining the logistics and distribution processes.
Product assembly
Robots equipped with vision systems can accurately assemble complex products by identifying and manipulating individual components with high precision.
Robot vision systems can perform precise measurements and inspections to ensure compliance with quality standards, eliminating human error and improving product accuracy.
Robots can utilize vision systems to detect and remove items from pallets or containers, enabling efficient material handling and order fulfillment.
Welding robots equipped with robot vision system can easily switch between different parts and products on the same production line, which makes it possible to effectively use robots not only in mass production but also in high-mix production.

Types of Robot Vision Scanners. How to Choose a Robot Vision System

In robot vision, it is common to utilize 3D cameras instead of 2D cameras. Although 2D cameras are more affordable and familiar to us, they provide good resolution and can capture color. However, since our world is inherently three-dimensional, depth information becomes crucial for accurate measurements. That is why, in the following sections of this article, we will describe the workflow with 3D cameras.

Dimensions and Placement in the Robotic Cell

There is a range of devices available, including compact scanners that can be conveniently located on the robot's flange. These scanners are ideal for smaller parts, allowing for seamless integration.

For larger parts, a more substantial scanner is typically required. These scanners can be mounted on tracks within the robotic cell, providing greater coverage and flexibility.
In some cases, the largest scanners are permanently installed above the cell, ensuring a comprehensive view of the workspace.

Field of View and Quality Characteristics

The size of the scanner often correlates with its field of view, meaning larger scanners can capture a broader range of vision. This is particularly beneficial when dealing with larger objects or complex environments.

Sophisticated scanners generally offer higher-quality scans, leveraging advanced technologies and improved imaging capabilities. These scanners provide greater accuracy and detail in capturing objects.

Price Considerations

The price of scanners tends to align with their performance. As scanners increase in size and provide higher performance, their cost tends to rise accordingly. The larger and more capable scanners typically come at a higher price point due to their advanced features and enhanced capabilities.

Also, in the process of choosing a scanner for robot vision, you should consider factors such as accuracy and shooting speed. However, it is equally important to take into account additional factors like housing and hardware interface. Given that robots operate in industrial environments, it becomes imperative to ensure robust protection against dust, dirt, and high temperatures. Moreover, using industrial-grade connectors is essential to prevent disconnections during critical moments.

How Robot Vision Works

Let's delve into the practical implementation of Robot Vision systems in welding by examining the ABAGY solution.

ABAGY utilizes a variety of robot vision devices that are specifically designed for different tasks. Their approach offers flexibility in terms of device placement, allowing for optimal integration within the welding process.

To illustrate this concept, let's consider a concrete example. In this scenario, we have strategically mounted a compact and cost-effective snapshot scanner onto the flange of the welding robot.

To conduct a simple test, we randomly place a part within a robotic cell and install clamps on the part in an arbitrary manner. Subsequently, we upload the 3D model of the part into the ABAGY software.

Optimized Scanning Process

The robot vision system powered by the snapshot scanner utilizes advanced algorithms to plan optimal scanning paths. The system finds a balance between the number of shots and data quality and can adapt to different angles and positions by moving the robot and using positioners.

Stitching Data for a Complete Picture

As each shot from the snapshot scanner captures a specific perspective, the collected data needs to be seamlessly stitched together to form a complete 3D model. Behind the scenes, robust algorithms work diligently to align and combine the captured data, ensuring a cohesive representation.

Matching 3D Model and Real Part

Upon obtaining data from machine vision regarding a real part within a robotic cell, ABAGY's advanced algorithms perform a matching process between the acquired data and the 3D model previously uploaded into the software. This enables the system to identify any deviations and subsequently propose the optimal robot path required to successfully carry out the welding task.

Identifying Fixtures Without 3D Model

Robot vision in welding enables precise object localization. Additionally, one of the remarkable capabilities of our system is its ability to accurately identify fixtures without pre-existing 3D models. Unlike parts, fixtures often lack readily available 3D models from customers. To simplify the process, we automate the recreation of 3D models for fixtures using robot vision. These models are slightly expanded to ensure collision avoidance while maintaining operational efficiency.

Efficient Decision-Making Interface

The robot vision system provides operators with an intuitive interface that streamlines decision-making. Processed data is represented through green and red points in the point cloud visualization. By following the guideline of "more green and less red," operators can swiftly assess whether the welding process can proceed as per the task requirements.

After confirming the scan results, the operator initiates the robotic welding process. The system then proceeds to generate a robot path automatically, considering potential collisions and deviations that may arise during the pre-assembly stage of the part or during the welding itself. No programming is required.

The integration of vision systems and intelligent software empowers robots to achieve enhanced flexibility and autonomy.

Benefits of Implementing a Robot Vision System

Among the advantages of using robotic vision systems are the following:
Enhanced Precision
Robots with vision capabilities can identify, sort, and handle objects with remarkable accuracy. This ability is invaluable in applications such as product assembly, quality control, and measuring tasks, which require precise handling and decision-making.
Increased Efficiency
Vision-guided robots can perform tasks at a faster rate and with greater consistency than their human counterparts. They can work round the clock without fatigue, and their ability to rapidly process visual data and execute tasks boosts operational efficiency.
Flexibility and Adaptability
With the help of advanced vision systems, robots can adapt to varying conditions and perform a wide range of tasks. They can work with different parts and products on the same production line, navigate through complex environments, and even adapt to changes in task parameters on-the-fly.
Robot vision allows machines to operate independently with minimal human intervention. Advanced algorithms can interpret visual data to make real-time decisions, plan optimal paths, and execute complex tasks, leading to higher levels of autonomy.
Improved Safety
Vision systems allow robots to perceive their surroundings and avoid collisions, leading to safer operations, particularly in industries such as manufacturing and logistics where robots and humans often work in close proximity.
Over time, the investment in vision-guided robots can prove cost-effective as it leads to significant savings in terms of reduced labor costs, increased productivity, and minimized errors.
Process Optimization
Robotic vision systems provide detailed data that can be analyzed for process optimization. This can lead to further improvements in efficiency, product quality, and overall operational performance.
Handling of Complex Tasks
With 3D vision and the ability to interpret and act on this data, robots can perform tasks that were once considered too complex or intricate for automated systems. This includes handling irregularly shaped objects, conducting precise welding, and assembling intricate products.
Integration with Other Technologies
Robot vision can integrate well with other advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, enabling the creation of intelligent robotic systems capable of learning and improving over time.



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