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Pi4-Workerbot Adapts Quickly

The pi4-workerbot may not be quite as fast as a human worker, but it can use its pressure-sensitive arms and 3D-camera eyes twenty-four hours per day in a factory job. The workerbot is a robot designed by Fraunhofer Institute for Production Systems and Design Technology IPK to fill in at factories that need to increase their production capacity at short notice.


(pi4-workerbot gets into the work flow)

The robot is equipped with three cameras. A state-of-the-art 3D camera in its forehead captures its general surroundings, while the two others are used for inspection purposes. The workerbot can perform a wide range of tasks. Matthias Krinke, Managing Director of pi4-Robotics, the company that is bringing the workerbot onto the market, explains: “It can measure objects or inspect a variety of surfaces.” To give an example, the robot can identify whether or not the chromium coating on a workpiece has been perfectly applied by studying how light reflects off the material. Krinke adds: “If you use two different cameras, it can inspect one aspect with its left eye, and another with its right.”

Another distinctive feature of the pi4-workerbot is that it has two arms. “This allows it to carry out new kinds of operations,” says Surdilovic. “These robots can transfer a workpiece from one hand to the other.” Useful, for instance, for observing complex components from all angles. The Fraunhofer researcher continues: “Conventional robotic arms generally only have one swivel joint at the shoulder; all their other joints are articulated. In other words, they have six degrees of freedom, not seven like a human arm.” However, as well as the swivel joint at its shoulder, the workerbot has an additional rotation facility which corresponds to the wrist on a human body

Pi4-workerbot reminds me of the blue collar robot from Harry Harrison's 1956 short story The Velvet Glove. This highly adaptable robot had an additional feature not found in pi4-workerbot; it could autonomously seek work.

Jon Venex fitted the key into the hotel room door. He had asked for a large room, the largest in the hotel and had paid the desk clerk extra for it... The room was bigger than he expected - fully three feet wide by five feet long...

There was the usual adjustable hook on the back wall. He slipped it through the recessed ring in the back of his neck and kicked himself up until his feet hung free of the floor. His legs relaxed with a rattle as he cut off all power below his waist.

The overworked leg motor would have to cool down before he could work on it, plenty of time to skim through the newspaper. With the chronic worry of the unemployed, he snapped it open to the want ads and ran his eye down the Help Wanted - Robot column...

From pi4-robotics via Physorg.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 12/2/2010)

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