OnRobot has been clear about its intentions to be the leading provider of collaborative end-of-arm tooling. And today the Danish company took another big step in diversifying its product portfolio.
OnRobot introduced a 2.5D vision system called “OnRobot Eyes.” This is OnRobot’s first product that isn’t a gripper, force torque sensor or tool changer. According to the company, OnRobot Eyes can be mounted on the robot wrist or externally anywhere in a production cell. It integrates with leading cobot and light industrial robot arms via the company’s One System Solution.
The system is designed for sorting a variety of objects or for CNC machine tending with metal parts that are defined by outer shape, as well as many other pick-and-place applications where orientation is important. It also features depth perception for applications such as stacking or to handle items of various heights.
OnRobot Eyes is an evolution of a vision system developed by Blue Workforce, which OnRobot acquired in April 2019. Kristian Hulgard, GM of OnRobot, Americas, told The Robot Report OnRobot Eyes was completely revamped from the system developed by Blue Workforce. “What we used was the R&D experts from Blue Workforce,” he said. “We changed the physical design and the mounting options. Even the software had to be redone to focus on all the different robot brands.”
The company claims OnRobot Eyes needs to take just one image for calibration and part recognition. It has automatic focus to work at different distances within the same application. Here is OnRobot’s explanation of why it went with a 2.5D system over 2D or 3D:
“2D cameras are the cheapest of the bunch, but are the least versatile. Typically, 2D cameras determine length and width (X and Y axis), but are unable to determine height, which limits the number of applications they can support. On the plus side, they are reliable within these constraints.
“With some clever mathematics, the performance of 2D cameras can be improved, but that tends to be an inconvenient, time-consuming and somewhat unnecessary process, especially when more capable camera options are readily available.
“3D cameras provide your robot with all the visual information it could possibly need, across all three axes and incorporating object rotation. This functionality comes at a price, however, since 3D cameras are the most expensive cameras and also tend to be difficult to integrate and operate.
“Furthermore, 3D cameras have reliability issues that make many manufacturers reluctant to embrace the technology, despite its powerhouse capabilities.
“2.5D cameras occupy a sweet spot between 2D and 3D cameras, both in terms of cost and capabilities. Capable of determining the height of objects, 2.5D cameras are ideal for scenarios in which objects differ in height and when items need to be stacked. Considerably less expensive than their 3D counterparts and considerably more capable than 2D cameras, 2.5D cameras are often an ideal fit for a wide range of applications—especially applications where 3D cameras would be expensive overkill.”
OnRobot CEO Enrico Krog Iversen said, “Compared to 2D [2.5D] adds not only length and width but also height information for the specific part, which is ideal when objects may vary in height or if objects must be stacked.”
Hulgard said the first production batch of OnRobot Eyes has already been sold. The product will be restocked later this month. “To become that one-stop shop, vision was a natural product we had to introduce,” Hulgard said. “It’s a key ingredient in so many collaborative applications and will become more important in the future. Since we had the in-house expertise, it quickly materialized on the product roadmap.”
OnRobot Eyes is the company’s third new product in 2020. Hulgard said another new product will launch in May. Just last week it introduced the OnRobot Soft Gripper, which it said can manipulate items including eggs, fruit, or bottles. It comes in star and four-fingered configurations, using three interchangeable silicon-molded cups to pick up small object under 2.2kg. This introduction will also surely make the soft robotic gripper market much more competitive.
And in February, OnRobot introduced its 3FG15 three-finger gripper designed for heavy payload machine tending applications that require precision and flexibility. It features a 150mm stroke and 15 kg (33 lb) payload. It offers a gripping force from 10-250N.
In December 2019, OnRobot raised $27.5 million from the European Investment Bank and several Danish investors.