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Beth Stackpole
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Software key to robotics evolution
Beth Stackpole   1/23/2012 6:32:13 AM
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Very informative wrap up on what to watch for in terms of robotics trends in 2012. I would definitely agree with the last point--the idea that the software needs to--and is--catching up with the hardware. Just like all of the embedded software being added to cars to enable and  all the new gadgetry, I imagine it will be the software that will ultimately drive the utility of these new robots, especially the ability for manufacturing engineers to more easily configure and program the robots to do their stuff.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Software key to robotics evolution
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2012 12:48:19 PM
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Thanks, Beth. We've already seen improvements in software for programming robots, as I wrote about in this DN article:

http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1392&doc_id=236225&itc=dn_analysis_element&


Beth Stackpole
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Re: Software key to robotics evolution
Beth Stackpole   1/23/2012 1:12:42 PM
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Thanks for the additional info, Ann. Has arcane software programming traditionally been a barrier to robot deployment on the factory floor?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Software key to robotics evolution
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2012 1:25:41 PM
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In comments on an earlier robotics article, one engineer told us that programming by hand was excruciating. So the point and click interface described in that article I gave the link to definitely was an improvement. But the big problem it solved, along with the entire package, was making it easier to program smaller robots in smaller cells doing fewer, lower-volume jobs.


Rob Spiegel
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Re: Software key to robotics evolution
Rob Spiegel   1/23/2012 2:53:50 PM
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Nice slide show, Ann. I love to look at pictures of robots. As for the software, I was under the impression there are fewer and fewer instances where robots need to be programmed by hand. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I thought more of the robots were now plug and play -- or at least as plug-and-play as possible.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Software key to robotics evolution
Ann R. Thryft   1/23/2012 3:16:40 PM
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Thanks, Rob. For industrial use, whether it's welding or assembly, or some other function, robots have to be programmed, since their complex movements must interact with other machines in 4-D. That said, the programming itself can either be hands on code crunching, or a simpler, point and click GUI, which is one of the big changes in the ABB story I gave the link to below.


Charles Murray
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Applications growing?
Charles Murray   1/23/2012 6:39:13 PM
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I wonder if we are starting to see more applications for two-armed robots. I know that single-armed robots can't do some simple operations, such as lifting and manipulating non-rigid objects. Is the manufacturing world starting to find applications for these two-armed units?

Alexander Wolfe
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Re: Applications growing?
Alexander Wolfe   1/23/2012 10:17:59 PM
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Good point, Chuck. It's interesting to observe that two-armed robots are in a way a mashup of industrial robots and the newer humanoid robots you explored so well in your piece, "Humanoid Robots Take Shape."

William K.
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Two armed robots
William K.   1/24/2012 10:19:01 AM
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The most interesting part of the application of two armed robots will undoubtedly be the programming, even moreso if they are programmed point-by-point from a pendant in the manner of one armed robots. Synchronizing the motions of two arms will add a whole additional dimension to the task. OF course, there may be programming methods available that take that into acount, which would be a valuable addition. I certainly hope that robot programming has advanced past the manual point by point path entry that I had to use, which was "a few years back". I have not seen any description of other programming methods mentioned in any detail in any Design News writeups, so I wonder what does exist currently.

William K.
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Two armed robots
William K.   1/24/2012 10:19:41 AM
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The most interesting part of the application of two armed robots will undoubtedly be the programming, even moreso if they are programmed point-by-point from a pendant in the manner of one armed robots. Synchronizing the motions of two arms will add a whole additional dimension to the task. OF course, there may be programming methods available that take that into acount, which would be a valuable addition. I certainly hope that robot programming has advanced past the manual point by point path entry that I had to use, which was "a few years back". I have not seen any description of other programming methods mentioned in any detail in any Design News writeups, so I wonder what does exist currently. Are there any responses?

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