Robots With Versatile Functions to Hit the Market in Japan Soon

26 Oct

With capabilities of robots having become ever stronger, people are expecting the appearance of robots with versatile applications. A breakthrough has been achieved recently in Japan, as Masatoshi Ishikawa, professor at the University of Tokyo, has rolled out a robot capable of assembling components and installing screws without advance instruction, signaling a prospect for appearance of industrial robots capable of doing various production-line works, according a report in Nikkei Shimbun.

The report attributes the remarkable capability of the robot to the technology developed by the University of Tokyo, enabling the robot to make moves by confirming its position every one thousandth of a second, which will greatly facilitates adjustment in the operating procedures of production lines. A team led by Masatoshi Ishikawa is accelerating the pace of R&D work, in cooperation with a number of enterprises, and is expected to commercialize the technology in one year, at the earliest.

Masatoshi and his team members point out that under normal situation, in order to have industrial robots learning certain operating procedures, operators must adjust the front ends of robots directly or direct their movements via controllers. As a result, at factories employing large numbers of robots, entire production lines must be stopped for reprogramming moves of robots, whenever there are changes in specifications of assembled products, a time-consuming and troublesome process.

The technology developed by the University of Tokyo features a camera capable of taking 1,000 images per second, facilitating positioning of holes for components, which, via high-speed calculation, enables robots to change positions and angles by their own and thereby adjust methods for their works and exertion of power. In a recent experiment, the R&D team had the industrial robot repeatedly insert and pull a rod, such as an iron wire, into and off a hole with 2 millimeters of diameter on a board precisely.

Presently, industrial robots are applied mostly for repeated operating procedures for a long time and are unfit for works requiring frequent changes in operating methods in a short time. Masatoshi Ishikawa notes that the new technology will enable robots to handle complicated operating procedures, as it will save around one week of instruction time.


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