Despite improvements in the safety of industrial robots, injuries, and fatalities caused by industrial robots still occur. However, advances in machine vision offer manufacturers safer and more flexible work cells.
The US-based software company Veo Robotics has launched its FreeMove system, a safety-ratable, production-ready vision system for safe human-robot interaction. According to the company, the system “gives manufacturing engineers the freedom to combine the strength, precision, and speed of standard industrial robots with the ingenuity, judgment, and dexterity of humans.”
Industrial robots from major manufacturers can move at very high speed with dangerous end effectors and payloads of hundreds of kilograms, which make collaborative operation nearly impossible. The Veo FreeMove system is compliant with ISO 13849 (Safety of machinery – Safety-related parts of control systems).
It consists of custom, 3D time-of-flight FreeMove Sensors mounted on the work cell periphery to cover the volume of the safeguarded space. A high-performance FreeMove Engine runs fail-safe software that processes image data from the sensors. Besides, the FreeMove Studio software allows self-service configuration and real-time visualization of the sensors and FreeMove Engine data.
The data from the Sensors is redundantly processed by each channel of the Engine and compared by a safety processor to guarantee correct calculation. The Engine then maps and classifies the workspace in real-time. The system can be configured through the FreeMove Studio.
If any object or workers comes in its environment, the system automatically signals the robot to slow or stop as necessary for worker safety, and then to resume its program when it can do so safely. As the sensor and engine have continuous registration and health monitoring systems, any fault will safely stop the robot.
Veo Robotics plans to submit FreeMove for certification in early 2020, with final certification expected by the end of 2020.
Customers can begin designing and evaluating manufacturing process steps using FreeMove with the FreeMove Application Development Kit (ADK). It is a version of FreeMove running on non-safety-ratable hardware that must be used with redundant safety systems for development purposes.