Robots Spatial Awareness

Onto New Days

The days of having large robots drilled into the floor and covered around every side by cages appear to be slowly coming to an end. With many robots weighing in at thousands of pounds and moving at high rates of speed, safety on the work floor has always been a looming concern. This dynamic has created a bit of a hot topic for industrial robot manufacturers. One might even say that an overdue subject is finally getting its day in court.  Robot manufacturers want to put the best solution on the floor that they possibly can. They want their robots to lift the most, move the fastest, and all with the most precision. But with these expectations have always come safety concerns for the workers on the floor. This is why these robots have been caged, bolted, and set away from any of their human co-workers. This has been the case for many years, but we may be seeing a change. New technology that will be rolling out in the near future may have found the answer to these concerns.

Breaking Out The Cage

Veo Robotics has been focusing on finding the right technology that can free these robots from the floor anchors and cages and still be safe for the work floor. Earlier this week they released their new product, Veo FreeMove. This new product is a robot that has the spatial recognition of any object or interference in the robot’s path. When it comes to humans, the robot will sense a collision prior to the incident and either adjust its route or stop altogether.  This alone is making it safer for humans to work around robots, all while reducing the hard barriers so often put in between man and machine.  So say Veo:

“FreeMove constantly calculates protective separation distances between humans, robots, and any workpieces they may be carrying, and will override the robot program as necessary to safely slow and stop the robot before a production worker can reach it or the workpiece.” – Patrick Sobalvarro, CEO and co-founder, Veo Robotics

Co-Workers At Last

Talk about smart safety.  In most situations, workers would get injured or the machines would go off-track if they came in contact with each other. As Patrick mentions, FreeMove technology is constantly seeing what is around the robot as it is working. It tracks the movements of any human or object that is in the range of the robot. This helps to make sure that if something does come within the robot’s path, the robot then will perform a safety override and make sure no injuries or accidents occur. This creates a work environment where it can be more free-moving on the work floor. This could eliminate the days of having large cages taking up space in the workplace. Rather than replacing humans with robots, this makes it so they can work together.

The Future Is Bright

This kind of thinking goes hand-in-hand with the rise of Collaborative Robots. Rather than just having these huge industrial robots that only large companies can afford, there has been a movement in the Co-bot industry. These more individual user-friendly options are cheaper, smaller, and are more resourceful. As it used to be, robots were only used in big companies with big pockets. With lower costs and much more user-friendly interfaces, co-bots have spread to smaller companies or even just individuals.  The connection between advancements in safety technology, like the Veo, and the advent of the collaborative movement cannot be denied.  One wonders; what could be around the corner next?

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