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Path tracing robot with pattern recognition

Path tracing robot with pattern recognition

Omron highlighted innovative applications in pattern recognition and path tracing at the PPMA Show. Visitors to the show's Robot Feature Area were able to draw their own freeform shapes, present them to the vision system within the cell, and then watch as the delta robot traced the shape. The system accurately followed the path even as the shape was rotated or moved back and forth on a linear slide to demonstrate on-the-fly conveyor synchronisation.

The demo cell featured an Omron delta robot, controlled by a Sysmac NJ controller, and linked to Omron's FH vision system, with a light curtain to ensure user safety. When a drawing of a shape was presented to the cell through the light curtain, the FH vision camera first scanned it to create the data points. Image filtering for increased contrast and background suppression improved the scan for outline detection. From the outline, the vision system split the path by buffers of 128 points each, and generates the output XY data of equally spaced points.

The vision algorithm skips the traditional pre-calculation that would conventionally be used in pattern recognition - a task that has high computational cost. This allows faster calculations to be performed and the cell to operate within a real time control systems context. The XY data is sent to the NJ PLC, which connects these output data points using interpolation to create a smooth curve. The total length of the path is calculated from the number of points and distance between pairs of points, supplied by the FH vision system. With the total distance calculated and the curves smoothed, the trajectory data and velocity profile can be applied, with the velocity data used to calculate the distance from the initial position to the current position.

A key feature of the system is its ability to synchronise with the speed of a conveyor - simulated in the demo cell using the rotary turntable and linear slide. A third degree polynomial interpolation is recalculated at every CPU tick (1ms) and based on time instead of the maximum speeds and accelerations, which are checked constantly during the path execution.

The demo highlighted a host of applications for path following where it is either not possible or desirable to have the path generated within a CAD system. The ability to draw a closed shape freehand and have it accurately traced saves time and could have important applications in areas such as food production, packaging, healthcare and more, enabling new levels of customisation for short batch runs or even single products, with full flexibility for changes in the design.

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