Robots with eyes: the vision camera

Robots with eyes: the vision camera

Nowadays robots are an undeniable part of our society. The times have changed. There is an electronic solution for everything. Some examples are the washing machine, vacuum cleaner robot or a drone that can film someone independently. One of the best known applications of robot technology in the industry is the use of robot arms for mounting car parts or for welding structures. However, these robots all had one major problem; they couldn’t see anything. The robots depended entirely on the software written for specific tasks. Any other action asked for rewriting of the software. This changed with the advent of the robot vision system, also known as the vision camera. With the advent of vision camera systems and intelligent viewers, a robot could be identified and a certain action could be performed on the basis of it.The simple robot arms from earlier can thus be changed into vision camera-controlled „smart robots“. And the technology is still in development..

What is the evolution of the vision camera?

Today’s robots are getting smarter. Previously a robot was completely dependent on software or a script for a certain action, a robot is now increasingly able to control itself with machine vision. The various vision camera techniques are therefore increasingly extensive. A well-known example of an early application of vision technology is the use of a laser scanner on a barcode. By scanning the barcode, the robot knows which product it concerns and which action it must perform. This technique can be found in many places in everyday life, such as in the supermarket or in factories. A step further is the QR code. A QR code is in most cases a link, made up of a square consisting of a series of blocks. This QR code can be scanned with a camera, after which the phone recognizes the link and opens it automatically. The next step in the evolution of product recognition is the independent recognition of products by means of a vision camera. This technique has been developed for a number of years and its possibilities are increasing. An everyday example of this is a camera that automatically recognizes faces, or a barrier at a parking garage that can recognize a license plate.

Application of the vision camera in the industry

The use of 2D cameras is increasingly being replaced by the use of 3D cameras. A 3D scan is created by measuring the time that the light has to travel from the scanner to the product. This technique makes it possible to recognize randomly placed objects in a bin or pallet and move them in stacks with the same products, also known as Bin-Picking. Robots with a vision camera are playing an increasingly important role in industrial automation. Some successful applications of vision guided robotics are: loading and unloading pallets; 

  • machine tending;
  • pick and place robots; 
  • approve or reject products and;
  • object identification and product specific actions.

In addition to these applications, there are many other applications where robots with a vision camera can be used for process automation.