Industrial robots are intelligent machines designed to replace human workers in difficult working conditions or in repetitive tasks. While the technological progress was born once with the appearance of industry, the concept of robotic machinery appears on the rise of industry needs. In 2013, the number of industrial robots used in industry is counting in hundreds of thousands and with a growing estimation for 2014 of about 6%.
In Asia, the Japanese are the leaders in robotics and the plans are to have 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 an increased rate of industrial robotic of only 4%. Automotive and electronics industry has a considerable growth potential in robotics.
Since the first industrial robot enter in operation was raised the issue of safety for workers who may be exposed intentionally or unintentionally to these intelligent machinery. The most important measure taken to protect workers was the isolation of robots in cages. Since then the things have changed and the industrial robot steps into a new era to follow the real needs of industry.
In the future, almost all industrial robots will be transformed in social robots. They will work together and are able to enter into physical contact and in safety conditions with the workers. If the algorithms that control the robot calculate 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 are engineered with two hands able 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 to an industrial robot name, a new level of intelligence is reached. Depending on the tasks and the environment where the human-like industrial robot works, the level of worker intervention differs. An operator can control the robot through many methods. From a simple interface and to a new method that is people specific and designed to use words for taking 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 simple words, and it could be a partner that heard and understand humans without eye focus to the speaker.
There are several industries where the robots are used in the 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 reasons that the human like appearance is implemented in industrial robots. Another reason is that the nature creates perfect tools to work with different size objects and different weights. These wonderful tools are human arms and hands.
Researchers and engineers try to recreate the human hands and arms structures by designing 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 along people in factories. Its arms are used mainly for repetitive labor in areas where is necessary a partner and not just a machine made of steel. The Nextage robot is designed to work in coordination with other robots and with humans.
Each arm has six degrees of freedom and engineered with high accuracy. Each hand can be loaded with 1.5 Kg weight. Using the stereo camera located in the head, Nextageis able to recognize the position and environment details. 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 a 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 the QNX operating system.
Baxter is a new entry in the family of human-like robots used in industry. The robot has two arms, a head, and can learn how doing 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 any worker could train the robot without requiring the intervention of experts in robotics.
The time elapsed between bringing the robot in factories and to enter into production is very short compared with actual robots. In one hour, the robot could enter into production since it can learn from a trainer using the 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 robots on the market.
Frida has a design focused on security and is designed 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 requires minimum effort.
With human-like behavior, the Frida ensures safe productivity and has integrated the IRC5 controller, which represents the key in performance in terms of accuracy.
Each hand has seven degrees of freedom and with unique abilities is able to ensure high productivity.
Robomotive uses an industrial humanoid robot produced by Yaskawa Motoman to build one of the most advanced robots. The robot is produced in three versions, each version can lift up 5 kg, 10 kg and respectively 20 kg per arm.
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.