Laser tracker-based system aims to improve robot accuracy13 November 2018

Smart Track laser sensor mounted to robot arm

Laser measurement technology company API has launched a laser tracker-based industrial robot performance and calibration solution that claims to have improved position accuracy up to 12 times in robots under test.

The API Robot Measurement Solution (RMS) promises to offer in-situ verification robot accuracy to ISO 9283 standard.

Robot performance verification is the process of identifying the real geometric parameters present in the kinematic structure of a robot, such as relative positions of robot joint links.A total of 14 static and dynamic tests are used to quantify a robot’s absolute performance. This performance check determines actual robot performance against the original OEM specifications to determine robot accuracy, repeatability and identifying inherent robot joint wear.

According to API, while robots are able to repeat an action, they have struggled to do so in a very accurately. It argues that many automation tasks require improved process control and a higher order of accuracy than that delivered by robot manufacturers. For instance, aerospace machining, drilling and assembly operations are increasingly performed by robots integrated into sophisticated and process critical manufacturing cells.

The solution includes API’s 6 degrees of freedom Radian Laser Tracker complimented by the API Smart Track Sensor, which mounts directly to the robot’s end effector, allowing the laser tracker to dynamically collect X, Y, Z, and I, J, K data for each robot position in space accurately and automatically.

Proprietary performance measurement software drives the robot to discrete positions for automated measurements and data acquisition. Up to 30 robot parameters can be calibrated in such a manner.

API’s systems can be supplied as a Robot Performance Measurement (RPM) module or combined Robot Calibration (RoboCal) and Robot Path Plan Enhancement (PPE) module. Robocal offers both DH kinematic model and a volumetric error compensation model (VEC) to update robot accuracy using collected data. Once a robot has been calibrated, existing robot path programs can be automatically updated, driving the robot to its corrected calibrated positions.

API is headquartered in Rockville, Maryland, but operates subsidiaries in France, Germany, and elsewhere.

William Dalrymple

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