|Date||Wednesday, April 14, 2021|
|Time||9:00 AM - 9:30 AM CDT|
The buzzword in industrial robotics today is “collaborative,” and for good reason. This capability enables easier teachability and greater safety across the robotics ecosystem.
Originally, industrial robots could only operate around people if they were caged because of how potentially dangerous they were. Over time, roboticists have developed collaborative arms that employ rounded features and torque-force-limiting to safely work on tasks with humans nearby. It wasn’t long after the first collaborative robot arm was installed in 2008 that collaborative robots quickly became a popular automation solution for companies looking to improve the safety and functionality of their facilities.
Similarly, the original mobile automation solution was a non-collaborative automated guided vehicle (AGV) that operated only on guided pathways, and workers were trained to stay out of its way. Today, mobile automation includes autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) that use various sensors for obstacle detection and avoidance. These sensors are essential for warehouse safety since they allow an AMR to “see” an obstacle and wait for it to get out of the way or detect an obstacle and plot a new path around it.
Even with the advancements in collaborative AMR technology, however, some obstacles cannot be avoided, and impacts can happen. In the world of robotic arms, these impacts are mitigated through the use of direct-drive motors in the arm joints.
Similarly, today’s AMR uses a gear-motor drivetrain, where the motor transfers power to the wheels via a gearbox. In the context of collaboration and safety, the gearbox is a disadvantage because it isolates the source of impact from the wheels. Therefore, it must experience a more forceful impact to stop, or be equipped with additional bump sensors.
The next generation AMR will leverage the same direct-drive motor technology in its drivetrain to deliver a truly collaborative mobile robot. The direct-drive mechanism enables the entire body of the AMR to act as a bump sensor and provide a much safer alternative to the traditional AMR.
Facility safety will become even more critical as the use of AMRs increases. Extending
the technology successfully used in collaborative robotic arms the AMR will be embraced as a more valuable tool in the next generation of manufacturing and industrial automation.
Collaborative automation is evolving beyond just the robotic arm.
The importance of safety is growing as companies bring more automation into the workplace.
|Wes Reid||IAM Robotics|
|Eric Potter||FANUC America Corporation|