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Spatial vision, targeted gripping: 3D smart cameras for robots and picking systems
Waldkirch, April 2007 – SICK IVP has expanded the IVC-3D smart camera with functionalities for the three-dimensional visual guidance of gripping systems and robots. Large and small objects, objects at rest or in motion, parts with and without positioning and alignment tolerances – the IVC-3D offers new possibilities both for picking from conveyors and for gripping from pallets thanks to the integration of highly accurate functions for the evaluation and synchronisation of measurement co-ordinates.

Three-dimensional vision for the guidance of grippers and robots is required when there are no grip-relevant object features and there is no positional information – or the target’s presence is not reproducible. Contrast problems can also lead to users deciding to exploit a 3D camera system if damage to products, or spurious gripping during automated handling, must be reliably ruled out. Regardless of the particular conditions, the smart camera’s visual power ensures targeted gripping by robots and automatic picking systems.

Picking from conveyors: often small parts in motion

Primary packaging (e.g. of biscuits) increasingly involves the use of automated gripping systems. The parts are small, in motion, unaligned, and their geometrical and colour properties often differ. In extreme cases they offer almost no contrast to the conveyor belt. The IVC-3D reliably solves the task of object detection under these, for 2D cameras, very problematic conditions. It supplies all the object information that is necessary for reliable gripping – even the target’s position and alignment on the conveyor belt. Taking the conveyor belt speed into account, the picking system can exploit this information for rapid and millimetre-accurate gripping.

Gripping from the pallet: large parts at rest

Without optical guidance robots can only grip objects if their dimensions are known and their position and orientation defined, e.g. by means of a retaining or centring system. The IVC-3D removes these restrictions. As a moving unit, the smart camera can detect the position, height, orientation, alignment, and height level on the pallet – even with complex objects. It is also possible to detect surface properties, as well as identify and sort objects on the basis of geometrical features, e.g. “in order” and “not in order”. Thus the IVC-3D can provide the robot with two types of information: for the actual gripping process, and for process-oriented handling.