Building a Robot Army? Use the Force (Sensor)

Robots have trouble with delicate motions, and thus are inferior to humans in delicate assembly applications. Sensing “the force” in this case requires no Jedi training, only a disc-shaped force/torque sensor attached at the wrist of the robot arm. ATI’s force/torque sensors consist of a transducer, shielded high-flex cable, and intelligent data acquisition system, Ethernet/DeviceNet interface or F/T controller.

Unlike load cells, which only operate on a single axis and measure only push, these sense torque and side loads along all six axes. It can measure the touch and feel and gives life to robots. It’s a feedback mechanism.

These sensors allow a doctor a continent away to perform surgery using a robot. The haptic feedback allows the robot to sense when it’s made contact with tissue, and make precise incisions with the right amount of force in areas the surgeon cannot view.

And for factories wanting to get deeper into automation, their robots will need these sensors to do more of what those human laborers can do in terms of dexterity and efficiency, while only paying the purchase and integration price and routine maintenance costs.

ATI’s newest force/torque sensor, the Axia80, will provide everything an automated production line would want with a significant price drop.

Physically, all the electronics are built into the transducer, as opposed to being in a separate box outside of the robot. This keeps the cost down and footprint smaller, while excelling in accuracy, resolution, and robustness. The sensor also has high overload protection, between five and 20 times over what is required. These robust sensors are designed to handle crashes and abuse.

>>Read more by John Hitch, New Equipment Digest, February 07, 2017