No Code Robotics - Making (New) Technologies Accessible For Everyone - Karim Zanaty
The biggest manufacturers work with them – robots. They do monotonous or even dangerous tasks in order to simplify manufacturing processes and save workers from doing dangerous tasks. However, for many small and medium-sized companies, the use is supposedly not worthwhile. Conventional industrial robots not only have to be shielded in their own fenced-off security areas; they also need additional educated manpower for programming. Additionally, many manufacturers have introduced their own programming languages in order to program their own robots accordingly. These are big hurdles to introduce robotic applications, especially in smaller firms. To counteract this, more and more cost-efficient, lightweight so-called cobots – collaborative robots – with a user-friendly no-code programming interface are being developed.
What are cobots?
A cobot was first defined in 1997 as “an apparatus and method of direct physical interaction between a person and a general-purpose manipulator controlled by a computer”. (J. E. Colgate, M. A. Peshkin). The aforementioned safety device, such as a protective fence, is no longer necessary. As a result, humans and machines work together in one place. A prerequisite for this is a complex system that takes the used tools and the environment into account and processes the received data internally in order to identify possible risks and approaching people and prevent possible collisions. Two and Three-dimensional imaging processes such as cameras or radar devices are being used more and more frequently and allows the robot to receive enough environmental data. With the support of artificial intelligence and realistic simulation environments, the robots can be prepared and trained in advance for a variety of different situations.
Therefore, the setup in a real environment hardly makes any difference to the simulation for the internal processes. This not only increases the reliability, but also the safe preparation, design, and operation of whole applications.
What does no-code programming mean?
No-code programming is intended to make the operation of robots available to all people and companies and to facilitate them. The main aim is to address companies that do not focus on automation in the first place. One example is supporting the small manufacturing industry or healthcare. The employees are not trained to set up automation systems and prepare them for complex activities. An operation can be made easier by app-like programs with intuitive user interfaces. With these user-friendly user interfaces, complex motion sequences can be defined in a simple process. The calculation and correct design of the robot application happens completely internally, without the operator having to program a single line of code. If the desired processes are not possible, the operator will be advised of this with suggested solutions or information.
Another highly promising possibility is the development of cognitive collaborative robots. Cognitive robots are able to capture their environment visually (like 3D cameras), aurally (3D microphone and audio systems), and sensitively (like touch sensors). Similar to the well-known ALEXA system, such a robot can be flexibly commanded via voice commands in addition to the programming of defined paths and programs. However, the safety of the user always has the highest priority.
Besides industrial manufacturing – enhancement of medical health care
In addition to the advantages of smaller, lighter, collaborative robots for industrial production, the use in the medical field of surgery and medical care is very interesting for me. In 2018 almost 15.1% of all general operations were supported by robots. Compared to 2012 (1.8%), one thing is certain: robot-assisted systems are becoming both more accessible and more trustworthy. The increased use of intuitive, intelligent robots not only enables more complex operations to be carried out but also increases the precision of the steps and processes. With the no-code programming approach, it could be made easy for operators to use the systems without extensive knowledge of the fundamentals of robotics.
In medical health care, cobots can be used in the care system to monitor, disinfect, distribute and prepare medicines and deliver them. Due to the increased requirements, there is also a lower risk of errors and infection for doctors and nurses.
The use of cobots is certainly just beginning and still has a lot of potentials. But the systems that already exist allow us a glimpse into the future that shows us one thing: They make you want more! Artificial intelligence helps us to make robots safer, more reliable, and better prepared for their future fields of work. When it comes to medical care, they help us save lives. Getting the best companies worldwide pulling together allows to get the best out of the new available technologies and make them accessible where needed.
Karim Zanaty , after his apprenticeship as a lab technician in the field of marine biology at the Alfred-Wegener- Institute Helmholtz-Centre for Polar and Marine Research, he studied Biomedical Engineering at the University of Rostock. During his studies, he gained experience in data analyses, programming, design, and lab work in a research environment. Now he is using his knowledge and experience to develop software features for collaborating robots (cobots) in industrial manufacturing. This includes path planning, safety applications as well as modular process applications.
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