Building Friendlier Robots

Industrial robots are great… except for one thing. They do not play well with others. That’s why they have to work by themselves behind a safety barrier. When working by themselves in controlled conditions, industrial machines are happy and productive. They get things done much faster and more efficiently than any human ever could. However, once people enter their work space, or if the environment changes, industrial machines get moody and temperamental. They might lash out, or even just refuse to work.

So what can you do about it? You can either leave these fussy industrial machines to work on their own, or you can try to make industrial robots more adaptable, and better suited to work with humans.

There’s no doubt that industrial robots are perfect for knocking out tedious tasks. Unfortunately, they are often too dangerous to be deployed next to human workers. So how can you use industrial machines in conjunction with humans? The answer so far has been more of a compromise rather than a solution. If you want robots to get along with humans, you need a collaborative robot rather than an industrial robot.

Compared to industrial machinery, collaborative robots are social butterflies. They easily adapt to working with a number of different people in constantly changing environments. There’s no need for safety barriers, and they are designed to help people accomplish more complex tasks that can’t be automated. Collaborative robots are not as capable as industrial robots in performing a single function, but they are much more versatile.

If you want the capabilities of an industrial robot to aid human workers, well, you’re just out of luck. That is, until some new software is perfected.  A group of engineers is trying to find a way to make industrial machinery a bit more friendly. Quipt is a new type of software that uses motion capture technology that enables industrial robots to, quite literally, work with humans. The engineers are, of course, hoping that this new software will have a big impact in manufacturing, but they’re also hoping that it will bring industrial machines to other industries.

Indramat used to make motion control systems for industrial machines. Quipt is giving a new meaning to the word motion control, and it could revolutionize how industrial robots are used.