Technology progress was born once with the appearance of industry, and the robots appeared on the rise of industry needs. Industrial robots are intelligent machines designed to replace human workers in difficult working conditions or in repetitive tasks. In 2013 the number of industrial robots used in industry is of the order of hundreds of thousands and until 2014 is estimated to grow faster by 6%.
Japan is the leader in robotics and in Asia will be the largest growth rate in coming years in the number of industrial robots with a percentage of 7%. The U.S. is on the second place with a growth rate of 6%, followed by Europe with 4% increased rate of industrial robotics units. Automotive and electronics industry have a considerable growth potential in robotics.
Since the first industrial robot enter in operation was raised the issue of safety for workers who may come into contact with them intentionally or unintentionally. Most important measure taken to protect workers was the isolation of these machines in cages. Since then the things have changed and industrial robots step into new era to address to real needs of industry.
In future almost all industrial robots will become social robots. They will work together and enter in physical contact with workers in safety conditions. If the algorithm that control the robot calculates a risk, the system is programmed to stop automatically.
An industrial humanoid robot is characterized by a human like appearance in its upper part of its body. Most of these robots has two hands used to handle objects and a head to see the environment.
Why my coworker is a humanoid robot?
In general when the word “autonomous” is attached by industrial robot name, a new level of intelligence is reached. Depending on the tasks and the environment where the human-like industrial robots works, the level of workers intervention differs. There are many methods through which an operator can control the robot. From a simple interface to a new method that is people specific and using words to take the control. Yes, the robots can hear and can see almost like a human. Using words instead a mouse and command lines, the robots can be controlled in a factory using words, it could be a partner that heard and understand us without eye focus to the speaker.
There are several industries that uses robots in manufacturing process including automotive, auxiliary, plastics, food, timber, beverages, agricultural, aeronautical, railway and energy ones, among others. Dozens or even hundreds of millions of people are going to work side by side with an intelligent robot, a large number of people who may be affected by the presence of these machines.
According to the Japanese philosophy, workers are encouraged to interact with human appearance robots. This is just one of the reason that the human like appearance is implemented in industrial robots. Another reason is that the nature create perfect tools to work with objects of different sizes and weights. These wonderful tools are human arms and hands.
Researchers and engineers try to recreate the human hands and arms structure and design robots with hands and arms.
The use of humanoid robots in industry cut the costs since these robots can action in different environments and are able to handle different objects in different manners.
Most advanced industrial humanoid robots
Developed by Kawada Industries, Nextage is a humanoid robot designed to work in factories along people. Its arms are used mainly for repetitive labor in areas where is necessary a partner and not just a machine made of steel. Nextage is designed to work in coordination with others robots and also with humans.
Each arm has six degrees of freedom and can be positioned with high accuracy. Each hand can be loaded with 1.5 Kg weight. The position and environment are recognized using a stereo camera mounted in the head. Each hand has integrated a camera used to determine the specific position of the object being worked on.
Designed for safety, the robot uses its sensors to detect when a worker is approached and stop automatically.
Compared with industrial robots with fixed mark on the ground, Nextage can be easily moved from one place to another.
The brain of the robot is an ATOM N270 1.6GHz processor, it uses 1GB RAM memory, and run QNX operating system.
Baxter is new entry in the family of human-like robots used in industry. The robot has two arms, a head, and can learn how to do a particular task.
Even is an intelligent robot, the price makes it cheaper compared with available robots on the market. Another positive aspect is that the robot could be trained by any worker without requiring the intervention of experts in robotics.
The time elapsed between bringing the robot in factory and to enter into production is very short compared with actual robots. In one hour the robot could enter in production since it can learn from a trainer using physical guidance.
Baxter uses a wide range of sensors to feel the objects and the environment. If a worker approaches the work area of the robot it reduces the speed or let them continue the task.
At a price about US$22,000, the robot is one of the cheapest industrial robot on the market.
Frida has a design focused on security able to work along with humans. The ABB company trying to response the industry trends with this new robot concept with two flexible arms and a portable base unit. The installation is simple and require minimum effort.
With human-like behavior, Frida ensures safe productivity and has integrated the IRC5 controller that is the key in performance in terms of accuracy.
Each hand has seven degrees of freedom and her strength is her unique agility which ensures high productivity.
Robomotive uses an industrial humanoid robot produced by Yaskawa Motoman to build one of the most advanced robot. The robot is produced in three versions, each can lift up 5 kg, 10 kg and 20 kg per arm respectively.
Each arm could work independently or in concordance. The 7-axis available for each arm creates a high flexibility and high ability to work with objects of different sizes.