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Article
Publication date: 1 July 1999

Michael Peshkin and J. Edward Colgate

Collaborative robots – “cobots” – are intended for direct interaction with a human worker, handling a shared payload. They are a marked departure from autonomous…

Abstract

Collaborative robots – “cobots” – are intended for direct interaction with a human worker, handling a shared payload. They are a marked departure from autonomous industrial robots which must be isolated from people for safety reasons. Cobots are also distinct from teleoperators, in which a human operator controls a robot and payload remotely. Cobots interact with people by producing software‐defined “virtual surfaces” which constrain and guide the motion of the shared payload, but add little or no power. Ergonomic as well as productivity benefits result from combining the strength and computer‐interface of the cobot with the sensing and dexterity of the human worker. This paper explains cobots as one approach to an emerging class of materials handling equipment called Intelligent Assist Devices (IADs). We describe two cobots of this class presently in industrial testbed settings. Future applications of cobots’ virtual surfaces are tool guidance in image guided surgery, and haptic display in which the surfaces of a CAD model can be felt.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 15 May 2020

Floyd D'Souza, João Costa and J. Norberto Pires

The Industry 4.0 initiative – with its ultimate objective of revolutionizing the supply-chain – putted more emphasis on smart and autonomous systems, creating new…

Abstract

Purpose

The Industry 4.0 initiative – with its ultimate objective of revolutionizing the supply-chain – putted more emphasis on smart and autonomous systems, creating new opportunities to add flexibility and agility to automatic manufacturing systems. These systems are designed to free people from monotonous and repetitive tasks, enabling them to concentrate in knowledge-based jobs. One of these repetitive functions is the order-picking task which consists of collecting parts from storage (warehouse) and distributing them among the ordering stations. An order-picking system can also pick finished parts from working stations to take them to the warehouse. The purpose of this paper is to present a simplified model of a robotic order-picking system, i.e. a mobile manipulator composed by an automated guided vehicle (AGV), a collaborative robot (cobot) and a robotic hand.

Design/methodology/approach

Details about its implementation are also presented. The AGV is needed to safely navigate inside the factory infrastructure, namely, between the warehouse and the working stations located in the shop-floor or elsewhere. For that purpose, an ActiveONE AGV, from Active Space Automation, was selected. The collaborative robot manipulator is used to move parts from/into the mobile platform (feeding the working stations and removing parts for the warehouse). A cobot from Kassow Robots was selected (model KR 810), kindly supplied by partner companies Roboplan (Portugal) and Kassow Robotics (Denmark). An Arduino MKR1000 board was also used to interconnect the user interface, the AGV and the collaborative robot. The graphical user interface was developed in C# using the Microsoft Visual Studio 2019 IDE, taking advantage of this experience in this type of language and programming environment.

Findings

The resulting prototype was fully demonstrated in the partner company warehouse (Active Space Automation) and constitutes a possible order-picking solution, which is ready to be integrated into advanced solutions for the factories of the future.

Originality/value

A solution to fully automate the order-picking task at an industrial shop-floor was presented and fully demonstrated. The objective was to design a system that could be easy to use, to adapt to different applications and that could be a basic infrastructure for advanced order-picking systems. The system proved to work very well, executing all the features required for an order-picking system working in an Industry 4.0 scenario where humans and machines must act as co-workers. Although all the system design objectives were accomplished, there are still opportunities to improve and add features to the presented solution. In terms of improvements, a different robotic hand will be used in the final setup, depending on the type of objects that are being required to move. The amount of equipment that is located on-board of the AGV can be significantly reduced, freeing space and lowering the weight that the AGV carries. For example, the controlling computer can be substituted by a single-board-computer without any advantage. Also, the cobot should be equipped with a wrist camera to identify objects and landmark. This would allow the cobot to fully identify the position and orientation of the objects to pick and drop. The wrist camera should also use bin-picking software to fully identify the shape of the objects to pick and also their relative position (if they are randomly located in a box, for example). These features are easy to add to the developed mobile manipulator, as there are a few vision systems in the market (some that integrate with the selected cobot) that can be easily integrated in the solution. Finally, this paper reports a development effort that neglected, for practical reasons, all issues related with certification, safety, training, etc. A future follow-up paper, reporting a practical use-case implementation, will properly address those practical and operational issues.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 47 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 18 January 2016

Robert Bogue

– This paper aims to provide a European perspective on the collaborative robot business and to consider the factors governing future market development.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide a European perspective on the collaborative robot business and to consider the factors governing future market development.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an introduction, this first describes the collaborative robots launched recently by European manufacturers and their applications. It then discusses major European research activities and finally considers the factors stimulating the market.

Findings

This article shows that collaborative robots are being commercialised by the major European robot manufacturers as well as by several smaller specialists. Although most have low payload capacities they are inexpensive and offer a number of operational benefits, making them well suited to a range of existing and emerging applications. Europe has a strong research base and several EU-funded programmes aim to stimulate collaborative robot development and use. Rapid market development is anticipated, driven in the main by applications in electronic product manufacture and assembly; new applications in the automotive industry; uses by small to medium-sized manufacturers; and companies seeking robots to support agile production methods.

Originality/value

This paper provides a timely review of the rapidly developing European collaborative robot industry.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

Content available
Article
Publication date: 1 June 1998

Abstract

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 25 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 4 April 2020

Robert Bogue

This paper aims to provide details of the use of sensing skins by robots through reference to commercial products and recent research.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide details of the use of sensing skins by robots through reference to commercial products and recent research.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an introduction, this paper first summarises the commercial status of robotic sensing skins. It then provides examples of recent safety skin research and is followed by a discussion of processing schemes applied to multiple sensor skin systems including humanoid robots. Examples of research into soft, flexible skins follow and the paper concludes with a short discussion.

Findings

The commercialisation of sensing skins has been driven by safety applications in the emerging cobot sector, and a market is emerging for skins that can be retrofitted to conventional robots. Sensing skin research is widespread and covers a multitude of sensing principles, technologies, materials and signal processing schemes. This will yield skins which could impart advanced sensory capabilities to robots and potential future uses include agile manipulation, search and rescue, personal care and advanced robotic prosthetics.

Originality/value

This paper provides details of the current role of sensing skins in robots and an insight into recent research.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 47 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

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Article
Publication date: 30 June 2020

Zoltan Dobra and Krishna S. Dhir

Recent years have seen a technological change, Industry 4.0, in the manufacturing industry. Human–robot cooperation, a new application, is increasing and facilitating…

Abstract

Purpose

Recent years have seen a technological change, Industry 4.0, in the manufacturing industry. Human–robot cooperation, a new application, is increasing and facilitating collaboration without fences, cages or any kind of separation. The purpose of the paper is to review mainstream academic publications to evaluate the current status of human–robot cooperation and identify potential areas of further research.

Design/methodology/approach

A systematic literature review is offered that searches, appraises, synthetizes and analyses relevant works.

Findings

The authors report the prevailing status of human–robot collaboration, human factors, complexity/ programming, safety, collision avoidance, instructing the robot system and other aspects of human–robot collaboration.

Practical implications

This paper identifies new directions and potential research in practice of human–robot collaboration, such as measuring the degree of collaboration, integrating human–robot cooperation into teamwork theories, effective functional relocation of the robot and product design for human robot collaboration.

Originality/value

This paper will be useful for three cohorts of readers, namely, the manufacturers who require a baseline for development and deployment of robots; users of robots-seeking manufacturing advantage and researchers looking for new directions for further exploration of human–machine collaboration.

Details

Industrial Robot: the international journal of robotics research and application, vol. 47 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 16 May 2016

Robert Bogue

This paper aims to provide details of recent commercial and academic developments in flexible and soft grippers and considers their impact on emerging robotic markets.

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to provide details of recent commercial and academic developments in flexible and soft grippers and considers their impact on emerging robotic markets.

Design/methodology/approach

Following an introduction, this paper first considers commercially available anthropomorphic robotic hands and soft grippers. It then discusses a selection of recent research activities and concludes with a brief discussion of the potential of these developments.

Findings

Anthropomorphic robotic hands, which seek to mimic the structure and capabilities of the human hand, together with a technologically diverse family of soft grippers have recently have been commercialised. Most are produced by companies which spun-out from academic establishments. A strong body of innovative research continues and involves a wide range of principles and technologies. These gripping technologies are expected to catalyse several new and emerging applications; the most important being in agile manufacturing, particularly when used with collaborative robots (cobots).

Originality/value

This paper provides details of recent developments and research into anthropomorphic hands and soft grippers and an insight into their applications.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 15 August 2016

Richard Bloss

The purpose of this paper is to review the dramatic entry of collaborative robotics into applications. It also examines the current state of the art for collaborative…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to review the dramatic entry of collaborative robotics into applications. It also examines the current state of the art for collaborative robotics, factors driving their entry and their outlook for the future.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper includes discussions with key managers of robot companies. Attendance at the International Federation for Robotics round table discussion on collaboration and another industry round table meeting on collaborative robotics. Attendance at the CIRP technical conference on automation. Attendance at the Robotics Industry Association International Collaborative Robots Workshop.

Findings

Collaborative robotics are addressing many previously unmet applications while saving money, improving productivity, simplifying programming and speeding the time to return investment. It is forecast that collaborative robotics systems can address almost 100 million assembly and logistics tasks not previously addressable with traditional robotics technology.

Practical implications

The paper implies a major examination of collaborative robot technology now and in the future. Readers may be very excited to learn the many new tasks that collaborative robots are addressing, the many tools that have been developed to aid in selecting, designing and gaining worker acceptance and the many unique benefits that are provided, as well as the systems already available.

Originality/value

The paper implies a major examination of collaborative robot technology now and in the future. Readers may be very excited to learn the many new tasks that collaborative robots are addressing, the many tools that have been developed to aid in selecting, designing and gaining worker acceptance and the many unique benefits that are provided, as well as the systems already available.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 43 no. 5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1997

B.H. Rudall

Gives reports and surveys of selected current research and developments in systems and cybernetics, including: Knowledge‐based systems, Collaborative robots, Business…

Abstract

Gives reports and surveys of selected current research and developments in systems and cybernetics, including: Knowledge‐based systems, Collaborative robots, Business cybernetics and systems, Information technology, Interdisciplinary research, Innovative systems, Biocybernetics.

Details

Kybernetes, vol. 26 no. 2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Article
Publication date: 1 June 1999

R.G. Templer, H.R. Nicholls and T. Nicolle

Over the last five years we have successfully researched, designed, developed and commercialised the world’s first lamb and sheep dressing robots. Two have already been…

Abstract

Over the last five years we have successfully researched, designed, developed and commercialised the world’s first lamb and sheep dressing robots. Two have already been sold to commercial concerns. This has caused a paradigm shift in the way automation in meat processing can be viewed. In this paper we describe the lessons we have learned in robotic automation via projects in Y‐cutting, ripdown, brisket clearing, opening cuts, handling of primal cuts and packing bagged meat pieces for lamb and sheep meat. All of these projects have been, or are about to be, trialed in operating plants processing export quality meat. These projects have involved the development of a programmable robot suitable for washdown environments, and of tooling to conduct specific dressing and handling tasks. Latest projects are applying this approach to automating certain beef processing tasks, and a beef processing robot has been constructed and is being installed for trials in an operating plant. The technology behind the robots is described and illustrated in our paper. Also described are the methods we used to ensure commercialisation was an economic success.

Details

Industrial Robot: An International Journal, vol. 26 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0143-991X

Keywords

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