VIDEO: How Intelligent Vision Systems Improve Industrial Robotic Automation
James Anderton posted on May 15, 2017 |
Sawyer from Rethink Robotics automates part inspection with new vision system capabilities.


The Baxter and Sawyer collaborative robots from Rethink Robotics are known as the robots with a friendly face, bringing a human touch to industrial robotics. In the video above, we take a look at a new way to program them.

“You can grab our robots and teach them what to do, but sometimes that has certain limitations because if you want do something more complex, or do something with vision, training by demonstration is not enough,” said Carle Palme, senior product manager at Rethink Robotics.

“We've created a new software called Intera 5 that allows you to do more complex work in the same intuitive and straightforward fashion.”

In the video, Palme demonstrates a typical pick-and-place application with added vision capabilities built in to the Sawyer arm for picking randomly placed objects.

Using a built-in camera, the Sawyer is able to register frames of reference, where to pick a part and where to place it, as well as locating the parts themselves.

“Another thing that we've added is intelligence so that if it does mis-pick, it knows it didn't pick the part correctly and it will move on to pick up another part,” Palme said.

Following a behavior tree, a user can interpret exactly how the robot is going about the process to identify issues, Palme explained.

“One of the great things about behavior trees is that creating all of this error handling is very intuitive for the user. You can follow exactly what's happening in tree at the time and if I wanted to change it, I can stop the robot, pull out my laptop and program any additional behavior I wanted it to do. Once I'm done I can either restart the task or continue from where I left off, which is good if I wanted to debug a task.”

Not only can you use vision systems for pick-and-place applications, but also for CNC machine tending and even part inspection.

In the video, we see an example of a Sawyer robot with a parallel gripper and vision system inspect a centrifugal pump.

“One of the things we've put in the system is a switch, where if it's in the incorrect location the vision system will recognize this and the robot will go in and fix it,” Palme said. “Because it is important to understand where the engine is relative to the base frame, it takes pictures of known locations and establishes a frame of reference for the whole pump.”

Logic can be programmed for the robot to test what it fixes, ensuring it does the job correctly.

“A lot of our customers desire this capability because after an hour of inspecting the same thing over and over, people tend to make mistakes,” Palme explained. “Having a robot that does that for them is a much more robust way of ensuring quality for their end users.”

For more information about the Sawyer robot and the Intera 5 software, visit the Rethink Robotics website.

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