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June 2017

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Sense of Touch for Robots
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Sense of Touch for Robots

The 6-axis F/T sensors automate high-precision tasks to increase efficiency, speed project development and lower production cost.

Robotics company OptoForce has opened a U.S. office to provide 6-axis force/torque sensors for robots to the North American market. The technology is already being used in medical and service sectors and other difficult-to-automate assembly tasks throughout Western Europe and Asia.

"Easy to install, lightweight and robust, the OptoForce 6-axis sensors create a sense of touch required for robots to perform high-precision work such as polishing, bolt insertion and other finer assembly tasks," said a company spokesperson. Currently compatible with robots from Universal Robots and KUKA, OptoForce sensors automate these tasks, increasing efficiency, speeding project development and decreasing overall production costs.

"Robots working more closely with humans need to accurately and precisely sense their surroundings and accomplish many tasks requiring the dexterity and sensitivity of the human hand," said Akos Dömötör, CEO, OptoForce. "Equipped with OptoForce high-precision sensors, these robots can now feel if they are placing an object in the right place or need to adjust it, and can automatically correct course. This speeds the production process and ultimately decreases costs, an ideal scenario for many U.S. manufacturers that have long offshored production due to high labor costs and the traditionally high cost of automation."

The new sensors were developed after OptoForce founders, then university students, worked together on a walking robot, where they faced constant issues with the weight, rigidity and cost of then available multi-axis force sensors. To address the many challenges, they developed a prototype of the current sensors that used infrared light to detect deformations of the silicone sensor structure. "This new and unique approach forms the basis of the current OptoForce solution and guarantees precise measurements even up to 200% overload," said a company spokesperson.

Gary Eliasson will lead the North American OptoForce office. "With the 2016 North American robotics market breaking all-time records in orders and shipments, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA) survey, OptoForce looks forward to playing a seminal role in the automation of North American manufacturing initiatives," said the spokesperson.

"Today's robotics tasks require a new level of sensitivity," Eliasson said. "OptoForce delivers this level of competence, outperforming related technologies in precision, cost, strength and flexibility. This opens up opportunities for companies to decrease costs and improve productivity."

Eliasson's first mandate will be to develop a strong distributor network. Current OptoForce distributors include Essential Robot Products and The Knotts Company, Inc.

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