The Robot Industries Association (RIA) has defined an industrial robots as “a reprogrammable multi-functional manipulator designed to move material, parts, tools or specialized devices, through variable programmed motions for the performance of a variety of tasks.” The most common types of manipulators may be modeled as an open kinematic chain of rigid bodies called links, interconnected by joints. Some have closed kinematic chains such as four-bar mechanisms for some links. The typical industrial robot is mounted on a fixed pedestal base which is connected to other links. The end-effector attaches to the free end and enables the robot to manipulate objects and perform the required tasks.
However, with the advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) industrial robots are becoming more intelligent and adept with every task.
The world is becoming intelligent and so do the machines. In an effort to make various official and industrial tasks more efficient with less labor involved, intelligent robots are being used to provide better services. Various intelligent industrial robots are employed by different industrial units to enhance their productivity. Notably, an intelligent industrial robot is a useful combination of a manipulator, sensors, and controls that are used in factory automation to improve and increase product quality and competitiveness. Such machines have been designed to perform a wide variety of tasks spanning from educational robots in classrooms, to arc welding robots in the automobile industry, to teleoperated robot arms and mobile robots in space.
Juan Aparicio, head of advanced manufacturing automation at Siemens Corporate Technology, said industrial robots will need to evolve into intelligent, autonomous machines with powerful brains that make decisions at the edge.
He said, “On one side, the era of offshore, low-cost labor is coming to an end. On the other side, the aging and lack of skilled manufacturing workers in developed countries, is making it difficult to re-shore factories. All of this combines with shorter innovation cycles and higher demand for customization in low volume. In order to empower workers and increase the penetration of human-robot collaboration, we need machines that can perform more tasks, that are easier to program, and that can react to unexpected situations.”
These are not the only changes Aparicio sees in the robotics industry. He also noted the impact of an increasing number of brands while costs are falling down. Cheaper robots mean less precision or repeatability and Aparicio thinks increasing the computing power and intelligence at the edge for robotic applications is the answer. “Nothing comes for free. Compensating for these deficiencies with machine vision and AI will enable higher penetration of robots in manufacturing, particularly for SMEs.”
According to Aparicio, the demand for more intelligent robotic applications is increasing. There is definitely an appetite for more intelligent robotics. Robotic Operating System has been traditionally the mean for researchers to enable higher intelligence in their robotic systems and it is finally making the leap into manufacturing.