System optimizes interaction between operators and robots

Each time the operator enters the work area and makes the corresponding record, the robot stops and waits for new instructions, from the movements that the person performs with his hand. ”
This is a part of the work of the student Freddy Hernán Martínez for his thesis in Mechatronics Engineering of the National University of Colombia (U.N.), who explains that it is enough for the person to raise his left arm to start the new programming cycle.

His research, which opens the possibility that machines that work virtually blindly share the same environment with people, would help reduce operating costs, as well as increase production in industries with automated processes.

The student’s work consisted in setting up a language type that would conform to the various programming protocols in existence, so that different kinds of robots could be used.

“The installation of a conventional robot requires the implementation of devices that guarantee the safety of the operation, such as billboards, sensors, cameras and floodgates, whose cost can even exceed
The use of Kinect-type sensors – which allow the detection of objects and the mapping of the respective work areas from an infra-red light system, or structured lighting – helped to establish the limits that the project would have, since at a greater distance It lost precision when executing the movements and increased the degree of complexity of programming.

Although so far the system only has a camera and any obstruction of the lens could interfere with the process, it would suffice to integrate more cameras, inside and outside the robot, so that they are linked to the same system.

Despite these difficulties, the system interacts with the operators to such a degree of detail, that the movements and trajectories of the machine can be programmed from what the person who is in the work area indicates using his hand.

“The introduction of a tool in the hand of the operator would not only be easier to detect by the machine, but also allow to achieve a higher level.

Program a robot

The robotic operating system (ROS) is an operating metasystem that works on open source platforms, UNIX or Linux type, so that you can use the hardware of any computer, which then integrates a viewer to That the machine can make its movements in a three-dimensional environment.

After the camera integrates into the Kinect-type processor, the machine connects to a set of free-code libraries that make it possible to manipulate industrial robots, in order to integrate it into a modular programming process, in such a way that the robot Execute the trajectory indicated by the operator.

When the three-dimensional model is integrated into the machine’s viewfinder, the robot is programmed to interrupt any activity that is being carried out whenever the presence of a person in the work area is detected, from a system that must have been adapted to the Code used by the ROS.

As the robot has been programmed to follow each of the trajectories indicated by the operator, when this stage ends and the person leaves the work area, the machine starts executing orders until the end of the process.

The system developed in the U.N. would have great potential to improve industrial processes associated with assembly and welding tasks, starting from the integration of tools designed to carry out these work.

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