ams OSRAM: Helping robots sense their world

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Smart robots play an increasingly important role in industrial automation as well as in our homes. Smart robotics spans traditional robot arms in production lines (e.g. automotive manufacturers) to mobile robots used in logistics, so-called AGVs (automated guided vehicles), AMRs (autonomous mobile robots) in warehouses, or a robotic vacuum cleaner. ams OSRAM’s miniaturized sensing and illumination solutions. The better the robot understands and interacts with its dynamic environment, the more successful this technology becomes. Beside their unique portfolio of sensors, LEDs and lasers, ams OSRAM pursues a dedicated innovation roadmap regarding future technologies like smart-surface solutions and differentiating algorithms to advance robot capabilities.

 Industrial robots

Industrial robots accelerate and execute manufacturing tasks in production such as welding and assembly. With the help of more advanced vision-based solutions, robots can perform more complex tasks providing greater flexibility, rendering them useful for different jobs. One example is ‘pick-and-place’ robots for components, where size, location, and orientation of the objects are variable factors.

Advanced image processing combined with 2D or 3D camera solutions achieve the required precision and quality. Key sensor challenges include acquiring high-quality images without movement artifacts. Global shutter pixels with high quantum efficiency, low power consumption and having a small footprint are important specifications for the image sensor. Focus-free and high-contrast illuminators enable 3D solutions that deliver best-in-class system performance. Time-of-flight modules can complement these solutions enabling presence detection, helping to maintain a safe operation should a human enter the active work area. For advanced solutions spectral sensors can be added which allow, in combination with machine learning algorithms, an enhanced object categorization and simplified pick-and-place algorithms.

Position sensing is key to control the position, orientation and motion of the robot. ams OSRAM’s contactless position sensors offer a high-resolution IC solution that is ideally suited for sensing and controlling the position of the industrial robots’ joint systems. Additionally, the position sensors help motor drives to control the torque and rotational speed more precisely.

Household robots

Household robots, prominently vacuum robots or robotic mowers, have become popular in recent years. Time-of-flight and 3D sensing Time-of-flight and 3D sensing adoption is used in these robots for mapping the area around the robot. Combined with multi-spectral technology to recognize floor materials or garden conditions, high resolution imaging and large field-of-view depth mapping, processes can be optimized on the fly. ams OSRAM optical and spectral technology is at the forefront of these challenges, covering all the bases, from the small details like sunlight immunity to big-picture items like absolute precision and extended lifetime. Key sensor challenges are resolution, precision, range and power consumption.

ams OSRAM integrated multi-zone time-of-flight sensors can be used as a cost effective solution to address the 3D sensing challenge of these robots for possible cliff detection or obstacle avoidance. They even complement more complex 3D vision systems by enabling power-optimized fast system wake-up functions.

ams OSRAM position sensors also help motor drives of household robots to control the torque and speed more precisely for increased motor power by lower power consumption and reducing the motor size.