The Era of Vision-Guided Robots

Over the past ten years, remarkable expansion has taken place in industrial automation. Barriers to entry have fallen as enterprises, small and large, now realize the power of automated technology. However, one major drawback has always pushed automation back and that is its scope as traditionally automation has remained limited to only repetitive and regular tasks.

Robots are now bringing automation to more complex, challenging tasks. In order to achieve this, they are relying on machine vision.


Recently, engineers were able to enhance the operating capabilities of two robots by equipping them with machine vision. With this new capability, the first robot performs bin packing of pipes with the help of a camera for providing vision guidance. The second robot then twists the caps on the pipe.

This new system solved the ergonomic issues and significantly increased the production efficiency of the robots. It may seem like an evolution of the system rather than a major revolution, but it highlights the potential of vision-guided technology and the benefits vision-guided robots can provide.

The robots can find parts on their own and work with them without the need of a human being to manually operate the system. Sensors and cameras work together to make a robot capable of effectively locating the materials it must work with.


In some situations, there are different components which must be identified correctly and manipulated in unique ways. In order to deal with these situations, vision-guided robots are required to have advanced software that can interpret the environment. This powerful software relies upon complex algorithms that update the robot with new information continuously.

Developing this kind of software once took years, but now, thanks to better programming tools and methods, the process can be completed in a short time.

John Petry of Cognex, a machine vision manufacturing company, says that historically, vision was used by only 10% of robots. Of robots that used vision, only some utilized the capabilities of 3D technology. Thanks to innovations in machine vision, now the robots that are using vision have doubled or even tripled in number.

Light assembly and consumer electronic applications are now using a vision-guided robotic system. More precise and smaller sensors are now being developed and vision algorithms and programs are quickly advancing.

Vision-guided robotic systems will soon witness greater adoption as resources converge and standardization sets in with the next revolution in robotics: the collaborative system. These systems are designed to work effectively and safely with humans side by side. Exterior sensors are not enough for collaborative systems, and machine vision is the only answer to many challenges in collaborative systems.

Vision-guided robots are now becoming the norm, and if you wish to get your hands on advanced vision-guided robots to enhance your operations, get in touch with Cincinnati Automation.