SwRi engineers develop software to help heavy industry, manufacturing sectors

Robots are of interest to broad range of manufacturers

SAN ANTONIOIn this week’s TECH SA, we go behind the scenes of the Robotics Collaborative Lab at Southwest Research Institute in the manufacturing robotics and technology department...

“When we talk about why we have a collaborative robotics lab, it’s all about developing that application,” Matthew Robinson, program manager for ROS Industrial Americas said.

Engineers use this lab for software development. The staff consists of robotics specialists and their skill sets are software development and programming.

“We have a number of variety of hardware and tools that enable us to develop what we call as collaborative applications,” Robinson said.

Inside the lab they have robots called collaborative robots, also known as "cobots."

Robinson demonstrated the features of robots with safety elements to them.

“The way the joints are offset means, as I put my hands on it, I’m not at risk of getting pinched. Those are some of the safe elements that allow it to be collaborative,” Robinson said.

Director of SwRI’s Manufacturing and Robotic Technologies Department Paul Evans said these robots are of interest to a broad range of manufacturers.

“Not just the big, traditional automotive manufacturer, also the small-size medium manufacturer that wants to just start exploring and how they start using robots in their manufacturing facility,” Evans said.

The team continues to work on new projects and is expanding.

“We are looking at a way that we teach our robot by demonstrating what we want the robot to do. That’s not currently a capability that exists on the factory floor,” Evans said.

The lab’s meeting space has already hosted workshops and training sessions. The department is also developing courses on integrating robotics into operations and supply chains.

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