WALTHAM, Mass. — Industrial automation and collaborative robot arms are usually discussed as two distinct categories of robotics. However, advances in machine vision offer manufacturers safer and more flexible workcells. Veo Robotics Inc. has announced the availability of its FreeMove system, which it said can “combine the strength, precision, and speed of standard industrial robots with the ingenuity, judgement, and dexterity of humans.”
In a blog post today, Veo Robotics co-founders Patrick Sobalvarro, CEO; Scott Denenberg, chief architect; and Clara Vu, vice president of engineering, described how collaborative features can help manufacturers be more nimble.
“Process variations that lead to product quality issues must be addressed immediately,” they wrote. “Product cycles are shorter, requiring quicker line design and commissioning. Mass customization means that fully automating manufacturing process steps has become much more costly in engineering time and capital equipment.”
Veo FreeMove designed for safety
Industrial robots typically move too quickly and with dangerous end effectors and payloads that preclude collaborative operation. FreeMove is designed to allow a robot to work at full speed until it recognizes a human in proximity. The system is compliant with international machine safety standard ISO 13849, said Veo Robotics.
Veo’s FreeMove Sensors are custom, 3D time-of-flight sensors to be mounted at the workcell periphery. The FreeMove Engine dual-channel architecture runs proprietary, fail-safe software to process image data, said the company.
In addition, Veo’s FreeMove Studio software provides self-service configuration and real-time visualization of sensor and FreeMove Engine data.
“Data from the sensors — which have redundant sensing elements with an onboard FPGA for real-time comparison and health monitoring — is fused into a 3D representation of the workcell,” stated Veo. “That data is redundantly processed by each channel of the Engine’s high-performance computing platform and then compared by a safety processor to guarantee correct calculation. The Engine maps and classifies the workspace in real time, performing dynamic speed and separation monitoring in accordance with ISO/TS 15066 and ISO 10218.”
The system can automatically override the robot program to stop it in the case of any fault Collaborative robotics becomes a feature, rather than a type of robot.
Certification and ADK
Veo Robotics, which raised which raised $15 million in funding in January, said it “has been working with third-party certification agencies through the entire FreeMove development process and will submit the Veo FreeMove system for certification in early 2020, with final certification expected at the end of 2020.”
Customers can already design and evaluate processes using FreeMove with the FreeMove Application Development Kit (ADK). It is a version of the software that runs on non-safety-rateable hardware, so developers must use redundant safety systems. However, the resulting designs can ultimately be used in production with the full version of FreeMove when it is available next year.