State of Industrial Robotics

MIT’s recent research brief entitled The State of Industrial Robotics: Emerging Technologies, Challenges, and Key Research directions is an interesting read.

There are three primary points from this report:

  1. Industry 4.0
    • Put simply, the process of interfacing between a database server and Programmable Logic Controllers across the plant. This involves an Ethercat/Profinet/EthernetIP translation layer between these two disparate systems. A process engineer can then flag trends in the acquired statistics. This greatly simplifies current methods of tracking cycle time, average sensor values, faults, etc.
  2. Safety around collaborative robots is difficult
    • Robots are desired to be fast and thus accelerate heavy objects rapidly, but also to not hurt anyone in the same area. Improved electronics that can detect smaller torque anomalies so that minuscule changes in expected force cause the robots to come to a halt. Unfortunately, there are fundamental limits to matter the resolution of the sensors or how fast industrial mechanical devices can stop.
  3. Danger at the interface of Natural Language Programming and voice interfaces and industrial robots
    • “Improved programming and communication interfaces can enable humans with little programming experience to control robots to perform a variety of tasks, while communication interfaces enable robots to communicate with other hardware and software.”
    • There are obvious hazards that this increased interface will create, summarized well in the report.

Looking forward, many of the problems outlined in this report may be solved by a software system like RoboDK. The current Yaskawa/Kuka/ABB/Denso etc. packages have many issues:

  • Customer bases tied to outdated, legacy teach pendants and older programming languages. Also 2000 page manuals.
  • Robot Operating Systems that do work. If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it: it is hard to start fresh, leaving customers on these platforms with the quirks and complexities of the antiquated systems.

Because of these problems, existing robotic software system vendors will have a hard time making new, industry-altering improvements at making things intuitive.

At Robotiquality, we do not lock our customers out of their teach pendants (speaking of which, contact your company’s sales representative to inquire about our latest color touchscreen teach pendants). This greatly aids in your company’s ability to notice problems. For example, allowing you to notice when your robot fails to make a target or when parts at the other side of the tolerance range don’t fit anymore. Furthermore, we are always developing in house prototypes on the latest robotic operating systems. Reach out today to ask our experts about how migrating to newer software could help save you time and money.