Mobile Robots in Industry 4.0: automation and flexibility

Industry 4.0, also known as Connected Industry, is the industry stage that has consolidated the use of connectivity and collaborative robotics in industrial processes, creating workspaces in which humans and robots can work safely together and share information to optimize processes, thus resulting in better decision-making.

The use of mobile robots and mobile manipulators creates the flexible and autonomous industrial automation needed to create Smart Factories, where the greatest asset is the exchange of information made possible by the integration of the latest intelligent technologies into robotics, such as the Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, or Big Data.

automation industry 4.0

This gives rise to the possibility of using intelligent, autonomous, and collaborative mobile robots which allow the creation of more efficient, optimal industrial processes with better use of resources, resulting in all-around greater productivity.

Industry 4.0 and the Age of Mobile Robotics

The combination of ICT and smart technologies has ushered in an era of mobile robotics with characteristics and features that widen its industrial applications and its capacity to process data, perform actions, and adapt to different working environments.

Thanks to R&D processes such as those developed by Robotnik, collaborative mobile robotics can take charge of the execution of repetitive processes, adapting the robots’ movements to the information they receive, process and share, thanks to the latest state-of-the-art software and sensors.

This has brought about very significant changes, for example, in the application of mobile robotics for pick & place logistics tasks or for general industrial applications as part feeding, metrology, quality control, operations on large parts or packaging, cleaning, polishing, screwing or drilling,  where the repeatability and uniformity of actions are key to saving costs and streamlining processes.

What features enable collaborative mobile robotics to create intelligent factories?

Intelligent automation

This means that a mobile robot is not only capable of performing a task without human intervention, but that it is also capable of self-management and decision making, due to its ability to access, generate, and process information

In this way, the mobile robot doesn’t only take on the execution of repetitive or dangerous processes; it can also decide to change its route or adapt its omnidirectional movements at any given moment, thanks to the simulations it can recreate and the predictive models it generates with the data it collects in real time.

Connectivity

This is what makes a machine-to-machine (M2M) communication possible: the creation of decentralized systems and the possibility for robots to interact with humans through integrated interfaces that simplify the collaborative work.

This also allows collaboration with other components that can be integrated into mobile platforms, such as artificial vision systems or robotic arms.

Flexibility

This is the adaptability that mobile robots and mobile manipulators have at their disposal, to modify their way of working, according to the demands of the production line, or the changes in the working environment.

Executing different tasks, adapting their speed, creating alternative routes, or changing sections in real time are all well within the capabilities of a mobile robot with intelligent navigation.

Within this ability to adapt, Robotnik has gone one step further with the creation of mobile manipulators that provide mobility and autonomy to the collaborative arms, with a simple plug and play integration.

Robotnik’s contributions to the evolution of Industry 4.0 

Robotnik is an expert in the design, manufacture, and marketing of mobile robots and mobile manipulators, with all the necessary features to enable any industry to adapt them to its own needs.

Their close collaboration with different types of industries has made it possible for Robotnik to innovate and create new tailor-made solutions to widen and enhance the industrial applications of mobile robots.

  • This has led to the development of an own Fleet Management System (FMS), which coordinates the operation of several robots and mobile manipulators working in the same area, sharing resources and creating coordinated flow control to save resources and create more efficient processes.
  • The integration of the latest intelligent technologies has enabled the provision of mobile robots with new functionalities that can improve collaborative work. Some cases in point are voice control, people tracking, or autonomous coupling to other machines.
  • The development of an Advanced user interface (HMI) allows to generate maps and define localization (waypoints) and routes in a simple and interactive way.  It allows the client/user to control the operations of mapping, localization and navigation directly from any device connected to the robot network.
  • And, finally, it has enabled the creation of mobile manipulators compatible with different automated components that expand their industrial applications. Here we have the innovative RB-KAIROS+ Mobile Robot, a robotic platform with omnidirectional kinematics equipped for the integration of the Universal Robots e-Series arm. This allows unlimited expansion of the cobot workspace, because the collaborative mobile manipulator can work in different locations.  In this sense, it enables a wide range of new applications and it is a great complement for current URe arm users.

It is this continuous process of research and development that has enabled robotics to begin taking on new tasks in different fields and sectors. 


ROS CONTROL, an API to control them all

ROS has been one of the greatest advances of the robotics industry in the past years. Its development began as a way to help the development of robot applications, easing the communication between sensors and algorithms, following the paradigm of “program once, test everywhere”.

This has been the pattern of the last years, and ROS has performed extremely good in that way. For example, you could code an algorithm to take an image as its input, without caring about which model, resolution or connection type, as long as it was supported by ROS and adopted its API.

But this focusing on the high level layer of application development led to an unthinkable oblivion: How was the access to actuators managed? How were the references of the actuators calculated? As in the case of high level applications, where the end user shouldn’t care about the source and destination of the data used and produced by him, in the case of robot control the user shouldn’t care about which type of actuators are used by a robot.

But today, this is not the situation anymore. ROS Control is the API that has been developed by the ROS community to allow simple access to different actuators. Using this standard API, the controller code is separated from the actuator code. For example, one could write a new controller implementing a fancy control strategy, and test it on different hardware without changing a single line of code. Or one could test different control algorithm with same hardware to find the most suitable for its needs.

ROS Control has different features that make it really appealing: real time capabilities, that allows to run control loops at hundreds of hertz; a simple manager interface, that gives access to the actuators and handles resource conflicts; a safety interface, that knows the hardware limitation of the joints and ensures that the commands sent to the actuators are between their limits; and a set off-the-shelf controllers that are ready to be used.

Have you ever thought about the mapping between joint and actuator space? ROS Control already did it. Normally this mapping is one-to-one, i.e. one actuator controls one joint, and their movement is related by a gearbox, so you don’t need to do messy calculations. However, in case of more complex scenarios, e.g. when a differential transmission is used, ROS Control gives us an elegant solution through its transmission interface to cope with this problem.

What about mixing different robot components into one? This is a trend nowadays, where robot components are autonomous and usable on their own, but can also be assembled into a single functional system. In those cases, ROS provides high level coordination between the components, but with ROS Control this coordination is also achieved at the low level, extending the control possibilities to far and beyond, for example, with a more coupled control between a robotic arm and the tool attached to it.

Finally, the separation between controllers and actuators allows an interesting option: simulation. Gazebo, the standard robot simulator used by ROS, implements simulated ROS Control actuators, and one can write and test a controller even before it has the real robot available. This feature of ROS Control is used at Robotnik to test new kinematic configurations for its most edgy robots, allowing for quick prototype delivery.

ROS Control is one of the key parts for the domination of the robotic world by ROS. As a world leading company in the ROS community, Robotnik makes an extensive use of ROS Control to give its customers the best products available on the market.


Robotnik will participate in the Global Robot Expo 2017

The fair has established itself as a benchmark in the sector in Europe.

Robotnik attends as an exhibitor, with his partner Schunk, the second edition of the Global Robot Expo, to be held on 2, 3 and 4 February in the Glass Pavilion of the Casa de Campo de Madrid.

Global Robot Expo is consolidated as well as a highlight in the agenda of the robotic sector in Europe, and it will meet the most representative companies of the same, as well as other social agents (Administration, universities, etc.).

At our booth, visitors will be able to see in action the SUMMIT XL mobile platform, the RB-1 mobile manipulator and the LWA 4P robotic arm.

We will be happy to welcome you at our stand (81-82). We wait for you!

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZV7gfXUM08&t=3s


Radio Project Eu progresses in Ambient Assisted Living

RADIO Project technical partners hold meeting in Nafpaktos, Greece. Teams are checking progress in the new ambient assisted living lab.

The AAL House is a fully equipped 60m2 residence that serves as a training laboratory for applying, experimenting and evaluating state-of-the-art ambient assisted living technologies.

Photo Gallery

RADIO Concept video.

RADIO Concept from roboskel on Vimeo.


ROS Components, because robotics means ROS

ROS Components is a division of Robotnik Automation Group, leading company in the European service robotics market.

The rise and potential of all the robots and devices using ROS has led us to create this new and exciting project, where we intend to offer a huge range of products in a simple and useful way for the customer. The client will be able to find all the technical information and support of any product at the same place: ROS Components.

buy-one-contribute-osrf

In recent years, ROS has become the standard in Service and Research Robotics, and it’s making great advances in the Industry sector.

Most of the robots and components in the market support ROS, though sometimes finding which are really supported, what ROS version they make use, and how to get them is a difficult task. One of our main purposes is to make it easier and simpler for the customer, linking the products with their ROS controllers, explaining how to install and configure them and showing where to find useful information about them. All the products in the site are supported by ROS, either available directly in the ROS distribution or through their source code.

From ROS-Components we strongly believe that ROS is and will be the standard in Robotics for many more years. Therefore we want to encourage roboticists to use it (whether you are not already doing so) as well as manufacturers to give support to From ROS Components we try to encourage the use of ROS as well as its maintenance and growth. Therefore we are going to donate part of the benefits of every sale to the OSRF. So, every time you buy in ROS Components, you’ll be contributing to the ROS maintenance and development. Apart from this, you also can directly contribute with the OSRF through the following link.

On the other hand, we want to encourage the ROS community to participate in the development, improvement and documentation of ROS packages (ros.wiki.org) as well as in helping with ROS related problems (answers.ros.org).

The ROS community has a new meeting point in ROS Components!

WELCOME to

ROS Components!

osrf_logo


Robotic web applications

ROS is a great tool to develop new robotic applications. Its ease of use and its large amount of tools and wide community makes ROS a great way to start learning robotics, or to develop a state of the art industrial applications. In spite of all these advantages, one of ROS main limitations is that it must work on Linux systems, mainly Ubuntu. Linux and Ubuntu are increasing the number of desktop users, but nowadays the most used Operating Systems are Windows for desktop users, and Android for mobile. This makes hard to integrate applications when the end user has never used a Linux Ubuntu system, or its infrastructure is based on Windows or Android. This problem can be solved by developing robotic applications taking advantage of the ROS web framework. ROS web framework is a collection of open-source tools and modules, built around the Robot Web Tools project, with the goal of converge ROS with modern web and network technologies. This will create a broadly accessible environment for robot development and human-interaction research used over wide area networks.

Robot Web Tools uses WebSockets to communicate with ROS middleware, and offers several tools to help develop applications using rosbridge. The main front-end tools is the roslibjs package, that is a library to build ROS nodes using Javascript, and allows usage of ROS topics, services, goals, parameters and TF. ros2djs and ros3djs are used to create 2D and 3D visualization of the ROS environment, allowing to visualize maps, costmaps, grids, URDF models, InteractiveMarkers, PointClouds and other basic geometric shapes. This can be very useful to create your own navigation packages that can be controlled from any device.  Other useful tools are keyboardteleopjs, to move a robot using a simple keyboard interface, mjpegcanvasjs to visualize image topics, and speech_commands to control a robot using speech. Robot Web Tools also includes all necessary server nodes to interface the client-based modules with ROS. This nodes are  rosbridge_server, web_video_server, and tf2_web_republisher.

All these tools can help to solve the problem of the isolation of ROS in Linux systems, and allows the deployment of ROS applications on any device that can use a web browser (Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Safari, etc … ) In the future we can expect more development of the Robot Web Tools project, for example with the addition of new communication standards, like WebRTC, that will help with applications demanding intensive and high-bandwidth streaming.

Robotnik Summit XL

Illustration 1: SUMMIT XL Web 3D visualization

Robotnik Turtlebot2

Illustration 2: Turtlebot web visualization

Robotnik Turtlebot2

Illustration 3: Turtlebot web map navigation