Types Of Sensors Employed In Industrial Robots

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In the world of industrial automation, robots need sensors. These sensors help them acquire the necessary information for them to properly execute an operation. You can add different types of sensors to different robots to improve their adaptability. 

Nowadays, you will see many robots that are equipped with cameras and torque sensors. These tools give the robots  better operational capabilities. They also help ensure that the robots will provide a safe workplace. Today, you will learn about the different types of sensors that you can integrate into your robots to automate your business’ production lines. 

#1 Part Detection 

Sensors In pick and place applications, there are times that the gripper can miss the part that it is supposed to be picked up. The purpose of part detection sensors is to give feedback to the operator about the gripper’s position. If the gripper happens to miss a part in the grasping operation, an error will be detected. After that, the robot will redo the grasping operation to ensure that it grasps the part well. 

#2 Safety Sensors 

Manufacturing industries that want to integrate robots into their production lines need to find a means to protect their workers. Safety sensors help in ensuring that the robots will not cause injuries to human workers alongside them. They can come in different forms including lasers and cameras. They are designed to inform robots about the presence of someone around them. There are safety systems that slow down a robot once a worker is spotted in a specific area. But once the worker gets too close, they will cause the robot to stop. One good example of a safety sensor is the laser you see on a garage door. The door stops once the laser detects an obstacle and retreats to prevent collision. Safety sensors in industrial robots work the same way. 

#3 Collision Detection Sensors 

The main application of collision detection sensors is to give human workers a safe workspace. Thus, they are usually used for collaborative robots, also known as cobots. Some of these sensors can come in the form of tactile recognition systems. These systems will send a signal to the robot once they sense pressure on soft surfaces, causing the robot to stop or limit its motions. 

Some companies, like EVS robots, build more advanced robots that have built-in collision detection sensors. They either use accelerometers or current feedback on their systems. Either way, when the robot senses an unusual force, it releases its emergency stop. Thus, providing a safer working area for the workers. 

#4 Force Torque Sensors 

A force torque sensor gives robots their sense of touch through their wrists. These sensors allow a robot to gauge the amount of force its end of arm tooling (EOAT) is applying. Normally, force torque sensors are situated between the EOAT and the robot. This makes it possible to monitor all of the forces applied by the robot’s EOAT. Some of the applications that use force torque sensors are the following: Force limitation Teaching Hand-guiding Assembly 

#5 2D Vision 

Robots with 2D vision can perform various tasks from movement detection to part localization on conveyors. These tools are basically video cameras that give eyes to robots. A lot of smart cameras on the market nowadays have the ability to detect parts. They can also coordinate the position of parts for robots, allowing them to perform necessary actions based on the information they receive. 

#6 3D Vision 

These tools are newer advancements compared to the 2D vision cameras. 3D vision systems are tri-dimensional and are equipped with 2 cameras positioned at different angles. Some also employ laser scanners aside from the 2 cameras. Through this, the robot can detect the 3rd dimension of an object. 

3D vision systems are used in many applications such as bin picking. They can detect objects and then create 3D versions of them. They then analyze these 3D versions to determine the optimal way to pick them up. 

Additional Sensors 

The robot sensors we mentioned above are only some of the most common ones. But, there are other application-specific sensors out there that you can fit into your robots. One good example is a sensor that can perform seam tracking for applications such as welding. 

These days, manufacturers are also using tactile sensors that are usually fitted on grippers. They help in detecting and “feeling” what object is in the gripper. Most of these sensors can detect forces that the robot is applying to an object. They can draw vectors based on the distribution of force in the object. This allows the robot to determine an object’s position and control it’s grasping force. You can also find tactile sensors that can detect variations in heat. 

Conclusion 

Sensors are important components in maximizing software intelligence. Advanced operations would not be possible without these sensors. Although they are complex to operate, they can help ensure the safety of the working environment in manufacturing facilities. But, take note that every type of sensor has a specific purpose. So, make sure that you choose the right one based on your application’s needs.

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