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A Future Where Humans and Robots Collaborate

During the recent CES 2024 exhibition at the Factory Section of the Nikon booth, a glimpse into the future of manufacturing was showcased through Nikon’s in-development Robot Vision. This cutting-edge technology, mounted on a robotic arm, exhibited the capability to identify and process parts with unparalleled speed and precision, surpassing the visual acuity of the human eye.

To meet the rapidly changing needs of the future, Nikon leverages opto-electronics and precision technologies which are its proven strengths, to reduce human labor and advance the automation and customization of manufacturing by automating picking and assembling processes, which have traditionally been difficult to automate.

Revolutionizing Manufacturing Dynamics

The integration of robotics and vision represents a transformative paradigm shift in the manufacturing landscape. Nikon’s Robot Vision enhances the speed, precision, and flexibility of robotic motion, marking a significant leap forward. Commenting on this innovation, a Nikon representative stated, “By leveraging the optical and precision technologies we have cultivated over the years, we are helping contribute to the evolution of robotics. Robotics technology is essential in resolving a variety of increasingly difficult challenges such as manufacturing automation and labor shortages. However, vision system limitations mean that it has not been possible to demonstrate robots’ full potential.”

In response to this challenge, Nikon has ingeniously combined laser, x-ray, and optical measurement technologies to develop a kinetic vision system that surpasses the capabilities of the human eye. Unlike conventional robotic hands, which operate strictly as instructed, robots equipped with Nikon’s Robot Vision demonstrate remarkable flexibility, responding dynamically to unexpected events.

This advanced vision system promises heightened productivity, elevating manufacturing to unprecedented levels. Nikon is committed to further refining robot vision, fostering a paradigm shift that contributes to the development of a sustainable industry.

Robot Vision Systems with Human-like Perception

The adoption of high-speed sensing technology, employing 2D/3D cameras attached to a robot’s fingertips, enables swift and flexible robot operations. This innovation facilitates the efficient picking of randomly piled workpieces and assembly on a moving target, significantly reducing the time required for these tasks and minimizing the need for extensive teaching.

The incorporation of a 2D sensor with low computational cost and superior edge detection, along with a 3D sensor boasting high-ranging accuracy, ensures robust measurement capabilities. A feedback loop system integrates dynamic vision and drive systems, endowing robots with dexterity and speeds that exceed human capabilities.

Additionally, the automation and simplification of vision system settings contribute to a streamlined setup process:

Camera Setting: Exposure time and illumination dimming can be set from images captured by the sensor. Auto-exposure function reduces time required for adjusting the image brightness.

Calibration: The auto-calibration function allows robot to calculate positional relations between robot and sensor automatically, which reduces the setup time.

CAD Model Registration: Settup of gripping position can be set easily using CAD model. Under virtual space, user can set up where robot should grip against workpieces.

Recognition Setting: Parameter settings are available for recognizing the workpiece. This settings can be done easily using CAD model and images captured by sensor.

In summary, Nikon’s Robot Vision stands at the forefront of a revolution in manufacturing, seamlessly blending robotics and vision to redefine the possibilities of automated processes. As this technology continues to evolve, it holds the promise of driving unparalleled advancements in productivity, efficiency, and the overall sustainability of the manufacturing industry.

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