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Bin Picking Made Easy

"Bin picking is among the most difficult disciplines in automation. Adjusting the parameters for reliable recognition and gripping of complex objects is demanding and requires expertise. LHRobotics.Vision, a software by Liebherr-Verzahntechnik GmbH, now makes bin picking much easier for users through Artificial Intelligence (AI)," said a company spokesperson.

During bin picking the robot must recognize different objects chaotically arranged and, in some cases, with complex geometries. It must remove the object from the container without collision, bring it into an orientated position and transfer it to the machine.

"Setting up the interaction between the components, bin and gripper requires experience and expertise from the operator," said the spokesperson. "This is why implementing bin picking solutions presents a great technological challenge for users. In most cases, it is not possible without support by the system manufacturer or integrator. But what if the system was able to learn and could adjust the parameters autonomously during set-up or even during operation? Liebherr has been addressing this question and is refining its own software, LHRobotics.Vision. This software greatly simplifies parametrization for the user through Artificial Intelligence (AI)."

Liebherr is a manufacturer of complete robot cells with integrated bin picking software. In 2020, the company decided to offer this software as an independent product. This means that it can be used in plants with lines made by other manufacturers.

LHRobotics.Vision Technology Package

Alongside the graphically led, intuitive software, the technology package also includes a projector-based 3D camera system. This enables an object-oriented image recognition system by evaluating a 3D stereo vision recording. From the components' 3D data and the interfering contours of the real bins, a point cloud is generated and serves as the basis for path planning for collision-free component picking. The desired picking positions on the component can be easily set graphically in the software, thus omitting the expensive teaching for the robot.

A special feature is the optional simulation tool, LHRobotics.Vision Sim. Using a physics engine, bin filling is simulated, after which a virtual point cloud is generated and evaluated. This enables the user to adjust the gripper geometry and optimize sequences virtually in order to achieve an improved emptying rate of even deeper bins-without risk and without expensive investment in test hardware.

AI Enters the System

AI and machine learning enable the automatic set-up of new components in the bin picking process. To achieve this, the system calculates the geometrical parameters of the components on the basis of real scan data and analyzes the resolution and the noise behavior of the sensor. Subsequently, test measurements are generated from these scan data and are then used to determine the optimal setting parameters. This simplifies processes and saves time and costs. Since the system trains itself at each scan during set-up it creates the basis for the next step, providing machine learning during operation.

eMobility Applications

"Many users still shy away from bin picking, because it is apparently so complex and they do not want to have to deal with this problem. With the new software release, we are now able to take these fears from our users and integrators," said Jurgen Grob, Head of Sales for Flexible Manufacturing and Automation Systems at Liebherr. "We see the paradigm shift in the entire industry as an opportunity as well; because of the upheaval in the automotive sector and the transition to eMobility applications, we have to face the new challenges."

Liebherr is now using vision systems with AI for the process-reliable, automatic plugging of limp cable connections-for example, the module connectors of battery packs for electric vehicles. The changes brought about by eMobility affect not only the drive train, but also body components, which are increasingly being manufactured in lightweight construction. Here too, Liebherr successfully uses LHRobotics.Vision for picking and removing metal components.

"In the future, increasingly complex part geometries and properties will present great challenges to bin picking. AI is a key technology, without which it will be almost impossible to meet these requirements," said Grob.

For more information contact:

Liebherr Gear Technology, Inc.

1465 Woodland Drive

Saline, MI 48176-1259


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