Three Sensors for a More Adaptable Robot

You know you can get much more out of your robot if you add some extra sensors. But, which sensors should you choose? Alex Owen-Hill (Robotiq, 9/6/16)) looks at the various benefits of added sensing using the example of a welding robot.

All robots depend on sensors to detect the world. Welding robots are no different, despite the fact that they are traditionally programmed to follow fixed paths. Like many robots, adding even a simple extra sensor can add huge flexibility to your welding robot. Sensors allow you to improve the accuracy, efficiency, and safety of your robotic setup, depending which sensor you choose.

In general, all sensors make a robot more flexible, but different sensing can improve the robot’s operation in different ways. Welding is an application which demonstrates this quite clearly.

The task of arc welding requires that the robot must trace a path along a line whilst maintaining a certain distance from the material. The basic way to use a robot for this is to program it point-by-point using a teach pendant, which is generally reliable and effective. However, this approach introduces a few challenges into the operation of the robot, including that:

  • It makes programming quite a long process, as the robot must be driven from point to point using the teach pendant.
  • It means that the robot is only able to operate on parts which are placed in exactly the same position as when it was programmed. If a part moves, there may be inaccuracies in the weld line or burrs may be missed.
  • If the parts have been assembled incorrectly, it will weld them anyway and may produce nonconformities as the robot can’t detect if the gap between parts are too large.

Another challenge of using robots for welding is that you have to fence off the robot from the rest of the workplace, which uses up a lot of space and means you have to turn off the robot every time you need to go near it. There are various ways you could overcome all of these challenges by adding sensors.

Three Sensors for a More Adaptable Robot

There are often multiple ways to solve a robotic limitation by using sensors. Here we will look at the impact of three different sensor types on some of the challenges we’ve just introduced.

  1. Force sensors
  2. Safety sensors
  3. Seam finding sensors

> Read more on this topic from Robotiq.com, 9/6/16