Force Copilot Helps Robots to “Feel”
Jeffrey Heimgartner posted on September 13, 2018 |

While the sense of touch is innately human, an increasing number of robotics companies are creating machines that can “feel.” This ability enables robots to easily and safely move or sense objects with precision. When it comes to detailed, repetitive tasks—which can potentially be harmful to humans or prone to error—robot capabilities can open the door to a new image of production.

In a company press release, Robotiq announced its launch of Force Copilot, a force torque sensor intuitive software for its Universal Robots e-Series.

Force Copilot software enables UR e-Series robots to sense part placement with precision. (Image courtesy of Robotiq.)
Force Copilot software enables UR e-Series robots to sense part placement with precision. (Image courtesy of Robotiq.)

“We want to free every production line operator in the world from repetitive manual tasks. With Force Copilot, we are making complex robot-movement programming accessible to anyone,” said Robotiq CEO Samuel Bouchard. “Force Copilot works as the human operator’s guide, helping program the robot quickly and easily. We’re proud to see the next step of the human-robot collaboration take shape.”

Force and torque sensing can help a robot locate stops when placing a part or assist with packaging and other assembly applications. For example, wrist force torque sensors give a collaborative robot the ability to complete an assembly task through feedback that helps ensure the part was correctly inserted.

Programming robots to delicately insert a part and find a surface was once a complicated matter. Force Copilot has a “suite of setup tools that allows the user to hand-guide the robot on complex trajectories.” This software allows complex tasks to be easily programmed. Flexibility and reliability are key components of the software. According to Robotiq’s website, Force Copilot’s features include:

  • Adjustable tool weight based on the center of gravity
  • Sensor value resetting
  • Hand-guided robot movement
  • Precise object placement
  • Alignment
  • Indexing
  • Insertion
  • Complex trajectories
  • Constant force and stiffness for each axis
Force Copilot software allows for easy programming of tasks such as insertion. (Image courtesy of Robotiq.)
Force Copilot software allows for easy programming of tasks such as insertion. (Image courtesy of Robotiq.)

If movement is required in a tight space, the sensor records the amount of the force and direction the operator used and mimics the motion with a constant force. Additionally, while humans tend to move fluidly, robot movements are generally more stop-and-go action. When a task involves something like polishing or sanding, this new software can help refine a robot’s movements to recreate the repetitive task at the correct speed.

Learn more about Force Copilot by watching this video.


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