Robotic Innovations

The biggest change and innovations seem to be popping up around making programming robotics easier all the way from higher levels in creating flow diagram programming, to joystick/accelerometer control of industrial robots, to the nitty gritty and using visual maps to plan robotic paths to avoid problems such as overtravel on a joint or singularities.  Here are some of the cool companies and products that I found innovative or interesting.

Vision Innovations

There are three large pushes in the vision world and they seem to focus around multispectral lighting, profiling/bin picking, and advanced vision processing utilizing AI.

A hand remote that uses hand motions as a part of their proprietary teach pendent to move industrial  robots to sets points and then a joystick to hone in on different postions. Takes teach points and program and dumps it into robot controller.  Very easy programming and positioning.

In my opinion, the most innovative product at Automate 2019. Turns any robotic cell into a collaborative robotic cell, but instead of bumping into things and stopping, it avoids collisions altogether. Utilizes 1-10 cameras surrounding a robot cell to calculate possible paths that will avoid collision with different robots, obstructions, or people.  The cameras are hooked into a physical board in a PC to do the motion planning.  They are currently getting TUV certified.

The next obvious evolution of collaborative robots is into smaller robots with high accuracy for precision applications or applications where you simply don’t want to have to engineer several small axes all for a far more attractive price point.  Denso’s Cobotta Bot still works with their simulation/programming software WinCaps III but with the advantage of being programmed like a standard collaborative robot with hand-taught set points.

A flow function block software that gets added to a robot controller. Uses same teach points method as whatever robot it is put on, so for a collaborative you would move it by hand, or for an industrial robot, it would jog the robot using the Forge tablet controller.  Keeps the same simplified programming method between different robots.  Currently communicates to a Rockwell PLC via discreet IO, but they have ethernet connectivity planned in the future.

Path planner and programming software for 6axis robots.  Can easily make complex path plan following different features on a CAD file of a product.  Creates a visual map of possible robot postures at each position/path showing rotational limits, reach limits, singularities and a lot more.

Though there have been tons of innovations in grippers this year from cheaper flexibile grippers such as by Uribos, or 3D printed custom grippers, the coolest innovation was the Gecko Gripper by Onrobot which uses Van der Waals forces to stick to flat-smooth surfaces without compressed air.

Hermary is a Rockwell Encompass partner that creates a 3D profile of products.  They have been used in a variety of environments such as the meat processing industry to plan automated cut paths. 

From a distance of 1cm to 1m, Teledyne Dalsa’s new Z-Trak Laser Profiler creates a height profile down to a few microns largely for complex and small defect detection.


Can create a 3D profile using a single snapshot by using controlled angles and colors.

There are many companies and products that are starting to utilize AI for both defect detection and product identification, so if this is something you think you could benefit from, please reach out so we can discuss feasibility, implementation, and who has the best software for you.

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