At IMTS, Vendors Aim to Make Robot Control Easier

Source: Yaskawa Motoman

September 17, 2018      

CHICAGO – At last week’s International Manufacturing Technology Show, another big theme for robotics and automation companies was making robot control easier for manufacturers, even when the robots are performing complex operations.

“We’re making it so that the robots’ tasks can be programmed by subject-matter experts rather than roboticists,” said Energid CEO Neil Tardella.

Energid released Actin 5, an update to its software development kit (SDK), real-time adaptive motion control software that enables robotic system developers to concentrate on the task for the robot rather than programming joint movement and paths. The software lets the robot find the most efficient path while avoiding collisions, dynamically updating the robot motion as the environment changes.

The new robot controller development framework is configurable using XML on a wide range of platforms, including real-time operating systems. Developers can embed the control capabilities into existing robotic systems using Actin’s modular design and XML configuration.

“Traditionally, developers of robotic systems would have to program many intermediate waypoints to avoid collisions with the environment and would have to hand-tune paths to avoid collisions, singularities and joint limits for process-related tasks,” said Tardella.

By providing the framework and the latest version of Actin software tools and APIs, Energid said companies can bring products through development and to market much more quickly.

Actin 5 adds a new scripting language, EcScript, designed to make the tool kit easier to use and faster to learn without knowing advanced programming languages. The package also includes a new human-machine interface (HMI) tool kit that lets users create touchscreen or teach-pendant user interfaces (UIs). The HMI tool kit is built on Qt QML for multi-platform UI development. QML also includes rendering and visualization tools.

At the Energid booth, Actin was used to program robots for bin picking (see video, above), kinematic solving with a seven-axis robot, and moving a part around a fixed tool so it doesn’t need to be moved. This can reduce a workplace footprint while also cutting costs and saving time.

Universal Robots addresses skills gap with online tool

Universal Robots unveiled its new Application Builder online tool that simplifies robotic skill development and deployment. The company said it is attempting to address the skills gap that many robotic companies and firms employing high-tech companies have complained about in many published articles.

Application Builder takes users through the entire process of building a successful, optimized UR robot application. The online configuration tool provides a step-by-step process to choose the right robot and end-of-arm tooling, to walk through the pros and cons of different configuration options and to learn the skills required to complete a full solution.

Universal Robots Application Builder robot control IMTS

Universal Robots’ new Application Builder online tool gives users a step-by-step process for selecting their robotics application.

“We continue to innovate to make robots accessible and cost-effective for the broadest possible audience,” said Stefan Stubgaard, head of Universal Robots’ Global Competence Center. “Application Builder gives anyone the tools and skills they need to quickly configure and deploy a successful robot application with complete confidence that it will satisfy their requirements.”

Yaskawa Motoman updates robot control units

Yaskawa Motoman displayed a number of different controllers.

YRC1000micro: The smallest robot controller in its class, the YRC1000micro is designed for locations where space considerations require the stacking of controllers, as well as for horizontal or vertical positioning.

The controller offers optimized acceleration/deceleration control designed to improve the robot’s cycle time up to 10%, and high path accuracy control enables increased precision in trajectory performance, independently of motion speed. Its robust motion software allows for highly accurate path planning, often resulting in reduced cycle times.

Each robot control unit has a single cable to the robot for cable reliability and collects data to allow for preventive and scheduled.

Yaskawa GP8 robot control smart pendant

Yaskawa Motoman’s Smart Pendant, seen here with a GP8 robot, aims to ease robot control functions. Source: Yaskawa Motomon

Smart Pendant: Yaskawa Motoman’s Smart Pendant is designed to provide a simple learning curve compared to the standard pendant, making it ideal for novice robot programmers. Its patented, built-in Smart Frame technology determines the user’s orientation relative to the robot, eliminating the need for conventional coordinates (x, y, z) in favor of human coordinate references for easy commands.

Automatic programming feedback can reduce programmer errors, while quick error recovery can cut costly downtime. The interface displays relevant information during playback, enabling users to monitor variables, positions, and I/O during runtime.

Other features include:

  • Descriptive commands
  • A favorites bar to capture commonly used commands for easy access
  • Touch-to-edit functionality for job editing
  • A detailed, built-in help and how-to instructions that eliminate the need for hard copy manuals

Smart Pendant includes Yaskawa Soft Pendant software, a digital version of the YRC1000 pendant that can run on the Windows operating system.

Yaskawa Motoman is also offering a training system for those who will be handling robot control in the future.

MotoSim Touch: The system is a PC-based offline programming environment and robotics simulation tool for K-12 schools, colleges, training organizations and educational research institutions designed to give instructors and students a fully functional production environment for Yaskawa industrial robots and the FS100 controller.

The package includes MotoSim Touch, a programming pendant and MotoSim EG-VRC (MotoSim Enhanced Graphics – Virtual Robot Controller) for Education. MotoSim Touch lets students toggle between a virtual pendant and a hardware pendant using MotoSim EG-VRC for Education, an offline programming and simulation software package.