Universal Robots
ActiNav is a new UR+ application kit that simplifies the integration of autonomous bin picking of parts and accurate placement in machines using UR cobots.

Autonomous Bin-Picking for Machine Tending

April 16, 2020
Universal Robots' ActiNav application synchronously handles vision processing, collision-free motion planning, and autonomous real-time robot control, to integrate autonomous bin-picking of parts and accurate placement in machines.

UNIVERSAL ROBOTS introduced an application kit to simplify integration of autonomous bin-picking of parts and accurate placement in machines using UR cobots. The ActiNav app synchronously handles vision processing, collision-free motion planning and autonomous real-time robot control, to eliminate the complexity and risk usually associated with bin-picking applications.

Automated bin picking involves integration and programming, and most bin picking products are solely focused on the vision aspect of bin picking; they often require hundreds of lines of additional programming to bridge the gap from “pick” to “place” – especially if the “place” is not simply dropping into a box or tote but accurately inserting the part into a fixture for further processing.

ActiNav Autonomous Bin Picking allows manufacturers with limited or no bin-picking deployment expertise to quickly achieve high machine uptime and accurate part placement with few operator interventions.

ActiNav combines real-time autonomous motion control, collaborative robotics, vision and sensor systems in one kit that, according to the developer, is easy to use, fast to deploy, and cost-effective. The system requires no vision or robotic programming expertise, but is based on a “teach-by-demonstration” principle using a six-step, wizard-guided setup process integrated into the UR cobot teach pendant.

ActiNav can be deployed by manufacturers’ in-house automation teams or through assistance from a UR distributor or integrator to deliver increased productivity, quality and efficiency.

ActiNav works with UR’s UR5e and UR10e e-Series cobots, a UR+ component or user- defined end effector, and application-specific frame or fixture as needed. The kit includes the Autonomous Motion Module (AMM) and ActiNav URCap user interface software, along with a choice of 3D sensors.

While there is a variety of approaches to automating machine tending stations, many of which include implementing trays, bowl feeders or conveyors to get the parts to the machine, Lawton explains how ActiNav bypasses this step. “Parts are often already in bins, so the most flexible and scalable option is to deliver that bin of parts to the machine and then pick them directly from the bin and place them into the machine,” he says. “This minimizes floor space and reduces the need for part-specific tooling.”

ActiNav autonomously inserts parts into CNC or processing machines (such as drilling, deburring, welding, trimming or tapping.) The high-resolution 3D sensor and CAD matching enables high-accuracy picks powered by ActiNav’s Autonomous Motion Module (AMM) that determines how to pick the part, then controls the robot to pick the part and place it in a fixture each time. The autonomous motion control enables ActiNav to operate inside deep bins that hold more parts; something that standalone bin picking vision systems struggle to accomplish.

“Machine tending has always been one of the mainstay applications for our collaborative robot arms,” stated Jim Lawton, v.p. of Product and Applications Management at Universal Robots. “We discovered a significant market need for a simple solution that enables UR cobots to autonomously locate and pick parts out of deep bins and place them precisely into a machine. This is not pick and drop; this is accurate pick and part-oriented placement.”

ActiNav is available through UR’s distribution channel and via the new UR+ Application Kits platform, an expansion of the UR+ ecosystem of components certified to work with UR cobots.

Learn more at www.universal-robots.com