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Computer vision and robots, the perfect couple?

Technologies
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In this blog we have spoken many times about these two technologies, both computer vision and robotics. Both are widely used in industry and are currently applied in almost all sectors: automotive, agriculture, pharma, etc. They are very versatile technologies that can be adapted to a large number of processes and that allow them to be automated, providing improvements in efficiency and quality, among others.

What are robotics and computer vision?

Robotics

as we know it includes different fields of application, which are very varied.

  • Industrial robotics, widely known, is used for assembly processes, component manufacturing, industrial part positioning, etc.

  • On the other hand, what is known as collaborative robotics, allows people and robots to coexist in the same workspace. The processes and tasks that are carried out with collaborative robotics are smaller, more precise tasks and, usually, with smaller parts.
  • There are also other types of fields in which robotics is applied and that are further away from the industrial environment, for example, service robotics. These robots provide services to humans. They perform tasks such as: surgery, caring for people, domestic and industrial cleaning services, entertainment, exploration, deactivation of bombs, mining, rescue, etc. fully or partially autonomously.

  • Space robotics is also robotic. These robots autonomously explore areas outside our planet. They are used to obtain soil samples and study the composition of the soil and the atmosphere. As you can imagine, these robots require advanced sensing that allows them to be aware of their environment.

As part of the sensorics that can be combined with robotics to provide information about the environment and provide the robot with “intelligence”, we can include computer vision systems that collect images through which said information is obtained.
Computer Vision is one of the technologies that are used more and more in factories. Computer vision systems acquire information from the environment in the form of images, which can be of many types, process and analyze them, obtaining data of interest. To understand it, you can think about how we understand our environment thanks to our senses. In this case, the eyes help us to obtain information from the world around us and the vision systems perform the same task to digitize that information so that it can be processed by a machine.
As you can see, both technologies present many possibilities for the industrial field. For this reason, we are talking about how, uniting both, the field of possibilities is expanded.

The union between computer vision and robotics in the industry

In traditional robotics applications, the work environment must be fixed and the positions are fixed, which means adapting the work environment to the robot through positioners etc.
Robots with vision systems are much more flexible, you can see an example of this type of Project here in which we select the part and place it in the box thanks to the vision system. The vision system allows, for example, to determine the position of any object or piece. In this way, it is not necessary for the parts to always be in the same position or at a fixed point, but rather that the environment and conditions can be changing. If we also talk about 3D vision, we can even position the piece at any point in space and the system will obtain its X, Y and Z coordinates, you can see an example of a robot project + 3D vision camera here:

Computer vision also helps in autonomous navigation, providing new information to the already known sensors used in this field (ultrasound, RFID, etc.)
Uniting robotics with computer vision allows these technologies to be used in new applications. In addition, it allows the installation of robots in new industrial processes that until now was unthinkable to carry out automatically.

What advantages are obtained in applications with robotics and computer vision?

When robotics is combined with computer vision, it allows optimizing its own operation, reducing errors, optimizing movements and ultimately improving the quality of the process and the final result.
Basically, robots are capable of performing tasks that humans cannot or that carry high risk. For example, imagine a robot that can enter a collapsing structure, a building on call, or a highly polluted environment.

Some interesting applications of the combination of robotics and computer vision

There are endless applications where the robot-camera combo works perfectly. Some of the most common are:

  • Pick and place: the vision system helps the robot to carry out the tasks of moving, picking up and placing parts in a changing environment. For this, both 2D and 3D vision systems are used.

  • Quality control: by means of computer vision, is determined which pieces should continue within the process and which pieces should be extracted from it because they contain a defect. The robot is responsible for extracting these parts when they do not meet quality standards.

  • Assembly: precision and repeatability in complex assembly processes, providing reliability to them, without the need for human supervision.

  • Palletizing and embedded: palletising and packaging of parts or finished product, also improves joining a robotic vision system, thus optimizing space, changing positions and orientations.

In addition to these industrial applications, the camera + robot combo is also used in fields such as medicine, using these technologies in surgical systems. Can you imagine being operated by a robot? Currently operations are carried out with this type of systems, although still under human supervision. There is no doubt that, at the rate at which technology advances, in a few years this will be more common than we think.
At ATRIA we have several projects related to these two areas underway and we combine both these and other technologies to solve all kinds of problems in different industrial sectors. Do you want to apply computer vision and robotics in any of your Projects? Contact us!

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