Humanoid robot relies on frame grabber for vision-guided handling

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A frame grabber from BitFlow is a key component in the Robomotive humanoid robot, an industrial robotic cell jointly developed by Yaskawa Motoman, Beltech and Robotiq. The Neon-CLB PCIe frame grabber reduces the demands and costs on the robot's motherboard and lessens the complexity of the vision task.

Robomotive is equipped with human-like arms and grippers and can lift up to 44 lbs per arm. Thanks to its 3D vision system, the two arms can work independently or in concordance, plus feature a seven-axis design that provides the flexibility to work with objects of different sizes. It is ideal for automating small batch processes with large mixes of parts, a task traditionally left to humans.

Donal Waide, director of sales at BitFlow, said: ‘Robomotive and other humanoid robots equipped with 3D vision sensors are today playing an increasing role in industrial automation, including in smaller bin-picking set-ups where parts are constantly changing and a robotic solution would have been ruled out because of expense just years ago.’

Multiple product-specific grippers and jigs are not necessary because Robomotive is flexible with advanced imaging capabilities and adaptive grippers. Also, users don't need to change the hardware environment with Robomotive; it can be placed in a workstation and trained to do the task a human would do. With conventional robots, time and money is wasted while switching over from different product batches. The Robomotive solution lets the user load a large number of programs depending on the product being assembled. Tasks can be switched easily and quickly.

The 3D vision system is based upon laser triangulation. The steps for robot guidance begin with gathering a 3D point cloud, which has to be processed to locate the object and its orientation. The 3D image has to be interrogated to ensure there are no other objects blocking the gripper's path - care has to be taken to avoid collisions between the gripper and its surroundings. For the system to work, communication between robot and vision has to be calibrated based on the same coordinates.

The low cost Neon-CLB (Camera Link Base cameras only) on a half sized PCIe x4 interface is built on top of BitFlow's FlowThru technology, which provides zero latency access to data, super low CPU usage, and unlimited DMA destination size. The Neon-CL family can reduce both the system cost and the hardware footprint by its ability to acquire from up to four cameras.

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