A robotic arm is also referred to as a mechanical arm. It functions much like a human arm, but has multiple joints that can rotate in different directions or move along the axis. Some robots have anthropomorphic qualities and can almost imitate the precise movements of human arms.
Robotic arms are programmed to perform specific task. They are extremely convenient in manufacturing, fabrication, assembly and many other industrial applications. They range from small machines build for intricate and delicate tasks to humongous contraptions that can construct an average building. A robotic arm with such a reach must be massive indeed.
Originally, robotic arms were meant to:
The role robotic arms play in manufacturing keeps changing with the changing technology especially robotic vision and sensor technology. Let us look at a little bit of history in robotic arms manufacturing.
The first robotic arm was designed in 1954 by George Devol in collaboration with Joseph Engelberger. In 1962, General Motors incorporated a robotic arm in its assembly line to enhance its production of vehicles. Then Victor Scheinman who was a mechanical engineer at the Stanford University developed the first robotic arm to be completely controlled by a computer in 1969. This one was christened the Stanford Arm. It was the first six axes robotic arm and other commercial robots followed soon after. Japan developed their first hydraulic industrial robotic arm in the same year and Germany produced their first commercial six axes robotic arm in 1973.
These robots were used for tasks such as spot welding in manufacturing plants. However, as technology advanced, more tasks were added to the robotics resume. Robotic development includes increasing the varieties of in end-of-arm tooling which allows a robot to perform other tasks in addition to welding. These tasks depend on the tools attached to the end of the robotic arms.
Some of the current end-arm tooling includes:
Development in Vision Robotics and Sensors
Robotic sensors have greatly impacted on the tasks that robots can safely perform. One of the most important advancements is the development of robotic sensors. Early robots were fitted with sensors whose main function was to measure the joint angels of the robot. Some of the sensors and their applications include:
There are other sensors including tactile or heat sensors. All these different types of sensors for robotic arms equip them with detailed and different information dependent on the robot’s current situation so that the robot can make the necessary decisions. The robot’s ability to make complex decisions is dependent on the amount of information that is availed to it.