To coincide with AIA Vision Week, an online five-day event of speakers and industry product showcase, MVPro has rekindled the quickfire Q&A.
We have sought the opinions of presenters, businesses and sponsors on this new online conference format, how they have adapted to the format and also their views on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Clara Vu, co-founder and CTO of VEO Robotics, provides greater insight into her presentation The Future of Robot Safety: From Collaborative Robots to Collaborative Applications through Advanced Vision, which is at 3pm (ET) on Friday May 22.
What’s your take on the ‘virtual’ conference?
This is my first one – so it’s difficult to answer that yet.
How have you adapted your presentation?
I haven’t. My presentation is specifically for this event
What will you be discussing in your AIA Vision Week presentation?
In my talk, I will be discussing the possibilities of flexible manufacturing that human-robot interaction can enable and the technical and robotic vision challenges that it raises, and what it means to create a safe collaborative workcell. I will talk about how Veo Robotics is addressing these challenges using advanced 3D safety-rated Time-of-Flight vision technology for Speed and Separation Monitoring. At the end, I will provide an examination of the impact that human-robot collaboration will have on manufacturing from flexible factory to continuously adaptive factory.
Talk abstract for further information:
When people imagine what factories will look like in the future, many of us picture a “lights out factory” with machines humming all day and night with no people in sight. But transforming factories, particularly to make them more flexible, will mean physically bringing together humans and robots. The most flexible machine in a factory is a robot and the most flexible resource is a human. Industrial robots are powerful, precise, and repeatable, but they don’t have the flexibility, intelligence, dexterity, and judgment of humans, and they aren’t going to any time in the foreseeable future. The best way to make manufacturing flexible is to let robots and people work closely together, each doing what they do best.
Popular perception of industrial collaborative robot systems centers on the robot itself, which is often a particular type of robot called Power and Force Limited (PFL). However, PFL is only one means of achieving safe collaboration, and it only addresses a subset of the risks involved in collaborative applications. Another approach that is growing in popularity is Speed and Separation Monitoring (SSM), which addresses some of PFL robots’ shortcomings.
Collaborative applications using SSM have fewer limitations on end effector design, robot speed, and payload. However, their implementations increase the complexity of the overall system because they require the integration of advanced 3D vision sensing systems and the computation of protective separation distances. Future intelligent vision sensing systems must reduce the burden of calculations on the integrator, providing a holistic approach to workcell safety.
What will be the biggest impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the sector (manufacturing)?
Manufacturing has been centred around the ability to scale, but today, the industry needs to focus on the ability to quickly respond to ever-changing market needs. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the need for flexible automation to the forefront of manufacturing, accelerating the trend of integrating human-machine collaboration into production processes. Manufacturers need to be able to change their process steps quickly, not just in times of crisis—as many have done by producing medical equipment such as ventilators and masks—but beyond. This is only possible with efficient and safe human-machine collaboration and that is what we focus on at Veo Robotics.
Veo’s FreeMove® system is a control system that turns standard industrial robots into collaborative machines that work safely alongside humans, using advanced computer vision and 3D sensing. It allows manufacturers to combine the strength, precision, and speed of standard industrial robots with the ingenuity, judgment, and dexterity of humans. Veo’s technology gives robots the ability to perceive and respond to their surroundings, providing the conditions for safe interactions between humans and robots in a workcell. This allows manufacturers to build more fluid, efficient, and flexible production lines.