Assistive robots, i.e. robots that share the working environment with humans, enable assembly tasks to be partially automated even in cases where full automation is not economically practicable. Reasons for this include unstructured, working environments that were previously manual, high flexibility requirements, undefined components such as flexible parts, or simply too little space.
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Features of assistive robots
To be able to interact safely and effectively with man in the working environment, assistive robots have to meet a whole series of requirements:
Robust process execution: it has to be possible to implement assistive robots in assembly environments which were previously manual. To enable this, the robots have to cope with changing component positions and tolerances. Therefore, Fraunhofer IPA has developed a sensor-controlled assembly system based on the principle of “rough localization – fine localization – force control assembly”. A 3D camera located above the workstation detects the approximate position of a device/component with an accuracy of +/- 1 cm. The robot then approaches this position and pinpoints it using a stereo camera integrated into the robot tool with a better level of accuracy than 1 mm. The actual assembly process is then executed by force control in order to detect component tolerances or canted components and react accordingly, e.g. by initiating a second attempt or informing the operator.