Looking at practical applications within AI in robotics

20th March 2017
Anna Flockett

Not so long ago discussions around artificial intelligence in robotics were limited to theoretical ideas and possible applications. But now the existing systems are already capable of taking advantage of advanced AI to help make robotics and automation more efficient. And it doesn’t have to stop at laboratories and research facilities either. Artificial intelligence is already being used in production lines and other practical applications.

The use of AI does bring a number of benefits to the realm of robotics and automation; and here some of them will be looked at closer.

Motion and measurement
The basic principles behind the use of robotics in production lines are measurement and motion. Robot arms are programmed to perform certain functions that rely heavily on measurements. Programmers can now define 3D nodes and specify a series of functions the robot arms must perform on every node.

Some systems are designed to take it a step further. They incorporate elements such as the Gaussian motion filter and Kalman prediction to help robots deal with more advanced tasks. The result is an automated system that can handle most of the tasks that used to require human input autonomously.

The purposes of these implementations are always speed and efficiency; in other words, automation systems are put in place to optimise production lines and help bump capacity without substantially increasing the overhead costs. Up to this point, existing systems from companies like CKF Systems are more than capable of handling things such as assembly and packing.

The challenges of large scale productions
Despite the accurate algorithms and advanced systems, there are still tasks and challenges that require human input for the systems to work. In robotic food packing systems, for example, manual input is often required to deal with stoppages and other issues. Systems are also equipped with emergency stops and backdoors to allow changes to be made in real-time.

This is where artificial intelligence comes in. AI can handle the task of programming the 3D nodes and creating the right algorithms to serve different functions. By specifying input parameters, modern robotic and automation systems can rely on sensors and other input methods to function independently.

Using the previous food packing system as an example, the presence of AI means the system can accurately measure the level of input and adjust production speed accordingly. It can also detect defective products and remove them from the line automatically.

Advanced functionalities
The previous examples are interesting enough already, but experts believe AI can help companies maintain efficient production lines further than anticipated. We’re already seeing advanced sensors being implemented in various parts of modern factories. Optical recognition, heat sensors and other new tools are allowing the AI to ‘understand’ more about the line it is managing.

Will a completely autonomous system be possible?

The answer is most definitely yes. In fact, some advanced factories, including mega-factories of top names such as Tesla and McLaren, are already close to 80% in terms of automation. It won’t be long before small businesses and small scale production lines start to take advantage of AI in robotics.

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