Robotic bin picking is the holy grail in industrial automation. Looking, selecting, picking, and placing randomly oriented objects is the ultimate challenge in robotic automation. Since this application has existed, it has been one of the most difficult tasks for industrial robot systems to reliably perform, but when it can be completed by a robot, there are major productivity gains.
Robots are inherently limited to performing repeatable tasks in a highly controlled environment. Bin picking of random parts requires significant flexibility and adaptability to an ever-changing environment. The latest robotic technology is helping to overcome some of these barriers.
The Primary Challenges of Robotic Bin Picking
The major challenge in robotic bin picking, as mentioned above, is that it is not a repeatable process for robots. A robot needs to perform a unique process for every part that is picked up and placed, meaning it cannot be pre-programmed for every part in a bin.
Beyond this, a robot must orient its gripper for every piece it wants to pick up while determining the most reliable way to grab the part. And before this even occurs, the robot must recognize the part as distinct from the other parts in the bin. All of this requires a massive amount of data processing to communicate between various different components of the bin picking system.
Robotic Bin Picking Technology That’s Changing Everything
There are a number of different technologies that are beginning to overcome some of the biggest challenges in robotic bin picking. The most prominent include:
- Advanced Vision Systems: vision systems are helping robots adapt to the environment around them and locate objects for picking. Advanced vision systems give robots the flexibility they need for bin picking random parts.
- Effective Robot Tooling: robot grippers and end effectors have advanced dramatically, helping robots more easily grasp a wide range of parts. Soft grippers and grippers with end effectors enhance a robot’s ability to grasp a randomly oriented part.
- Processing Architecture: a wealth of data is created when using vision guided robots. Sometimes, there’s too much data for quick communication between a vision system, an external PC, and then a robot for smarter operation. Smart cameras and embedded vision components are changing the way robots process data for flexible applications.
A number of different technologies are shaping the future of robotic bin picking, but the three mentioned above are some of the most important.
Robotic bin picking of random parts is a notoriously difficult task for robots, but increasing levels of flexibility and adaptability are making today’s robots more prepared to effectively pick and place randomly oriented objects.
To learn more about the latest technology in robotic bin picking, take a deep dive by registering for our free, archived webinar, “Update in Bin Picking Robots”.