Robots, on Balance

Robots have some real advantages over human workers. They can work for long periods of time without getting tired or requiring breaks. They can be more precise and accurate than human workers. They can be physically stronger than people, with greater capacity to lift heavy things without doing themselves harm.

One thing they’re not good at is balance.

Human balance

Human beings are able to keep their balance under all kinds of circumstances, including uneven terrain and the need to move their heads and other parts of their bodies. This requires synchronicity of the vestibular system of the inner ear, visual input, and the physical sense known as proprioception that tells us where the parts of our bodies are and which way is up.

Input from all these systems reaches the brain and is interpreted and integrated with memories and other information. The brain automatically uses all this information to influence movements to maintain balance.

We can walk and move, pick things up, pass by other people and objects, and even cope with interruptions and jostling, all the while making myriad delicate adjustments to keep ourselves upright and not falling down.

Robot balance

Robots don’t have a vestibular system, they have much more limited visual ability, and they have nothing even close to proprioception.

Industrial robot arms are usually settled on solid bases and make very limited movements. Wheeled robots can be securely balanced depending on their height. Robots with multiple legs, like those robots that remind us of insects or dogs, have an advantage over two-legged robots. But robots with two legs have advantages in many settings.

Some  researchers have been working on helping robots learn balancing strategies. Gait planning and fast feedback loops are in the mix. AI makes balance seem possible.

However, to this point, balance among robots is seen mostly just when that is all the robot is doing. That is, a robot can be built and programmed to walk, but getting a robot to keep its balance while doing tasks in a warehouse is a horse of a different color.

Robust motion control

Researchers agree that excellent motion control is essential for robotic balance. Indramat made some of the best motion control on the planet. If your  Indramat motion control systems need support or service, we should be your first call. We’re Indramat specialists with years of experience. Contact us for immediate assistance.