Listen to this article
Intrinsic Innovation LLC is building a software platform that it said will make robotics more accessible to developers. This week, the company is demonstrating how its real-time control framework can be integrated with KEBA Group AG’s robot controllers at the Smart Production Solutions, or SPS, trade fair.
“A core design principle for our team at Intrinsic is hardware interoperability,” said Intrinsic in a blog post. “As we build a platform to make robotics more accessible to solutions builders around the world, we rely whenever possible on open interfaces, industry standards, and existing ecosystems.”
The Mountain View, Calif.-based company said the framework is the basis for its Flowstate tool for robotics and artificial intelligence developers. The Web-based tool abstracts functions such as path planning and manipulation into skills to facilitate robot programming. Intrinsic is working with beta testers including industry partner Comau.
KEBA demonstrates motion control at SPS
By integrating robot controllers and software, KEBA is showing the potential of robotics interoperability at SPS in Nuremburg, Germany, said Intrinsic. “This is the first time we’re showing that our systems can work together to pave the way for seamless use of dozens more robot brands in the KEBA ecosystem,” it said.
KEBA has provided industrial automation, digital interfaces, and energy systems since 1968. The Linz, Austria-based company and Intrinsic are showing how Flowstate and KEBA’s controllers can support six degree-of-freedom (DOF) robot arms from a range of manufacturers.
The partners are demonstrating printed circuit board (PCB) testing, a common task in electronics production. Intrinsic claimed that its real-time control framework “allows for instantaneous reactions to incoming sensor signals, which enables sensor-based motion control and compliant motions on industrial robots.”
It added that the platform allows users to add hardware modules and capabilities that they might need for their applications. “Our vision is for partners to easily extend our framework, through new hardware integrations, such as this one with KEBA’s controller streaming interface, and unique capabilities for motion control,” said Intrinsic.
In the PCB application, a robot scans and grips circuit boards and inserts the delicate objects into a circuit board tester. Depending on the test results, the robot then sorts the PCBs into corresponding boxes.
“With the integration of two powerful ecosystems, we bring together the best technologies of KEBA and Intrinsic to create real added value for robotics applications,” said Christian Augdopler, vice president of robotics at KEBA Industrial Automation GmbH. “Using Flowstate in combination with the KEBA robotics solution, we can help enable flexible automation solutions that use sensor-guided motion and process adaptation, rather than being hard-coded. We are convinced this will unlock a lot of efficiencies across industries.”
“As our teams continue to work together, we will be exploring how to bring this technical integration into the mainstream, in easy-to-access ways for the industry,” wrote Intrinsic. “We’re excited about the significance of this collaborative milestone as we pave the way for even more seamless interoperability in automation, across hardware and software ecosystems.”
Intrinsic Flowstate lets robots react in real time
Intrinsic explained that Flowstate provided AI perception capabilities, enabling the robot at SPS to detect the position and orientation of the circuit board and plan the appropriate point at which to grasp it. Flowstate’s motion-planning skills allow for process adaptation, adjusting the trajectory of the robot based on the current position of the circuit board, it said.
In addition, the manipulation skills use data from force-torque sensors to adjust motions and “detect” a successful insertion of the circuit board into the test adapter, said Intrinsic.
“We’re demonstrating for the first time that our technologies easily work together,” said Ravi Kolluri, head of engineering at Intrinsic. “What we’re really excited about is interoperability and the potential this can unlock for the broader ecosystem, including supporting more and more robot manufacturers in new ways.”
In 2021, Intrinsic spun off from Google Inc. parent Alphabet Inc. In 2022, Intrinsic acquired Open Source Robotics Corp., the for-profit division of the Open Source Robotics Foundation, which has developed the Robot Operating System (ROS).
In May, the company introduced Flowstate, and Wendy Tan White, CEO of Intrinsic, was a keynote speaker at the Robotics Summit & Expo in Boston. In June, Intrinsic announced a collaboration with Siemens Digital Industries “to democratize access to robotics.”
The beta for Flowstate is open to new applicants.