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14 July, 2024

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Low-cost VR technology controls robots remotely

30 April, 2024

Mitsubishi Electric has partnered with the UK robotic software specialist Extend Robotics to allow robots to be controlled remotely using off-the-shelf consumer virtual reality (VR) hardware, thus slashing set-up and training costs compared to bespoke systems. Extend’s Advanced Mechanics Assistance System (Amas) platform is now compatible with Mitsubishi’s Melfa industrial robots.

Amas uses cloud-connected extended reality technology to allow non-robotic experts to operate robots safely and effectively from remote locations. The human-robot interface renders the workspace in 3D, providing authentic depth perception during teleoperation, while allowing fast gesture inputs to control robots with low latency, even when operating on low communications bandwidths.

Mitsubishi and Reading-based Extend say that their partnership will help manufacturers to upskill employees much faster, while also enabling robots to perform non-uniform tasks in real time, even if the operators are in a different location.

Extend Robotics believes the technology could solve several challenges associated with single-purpose manufacturing set-ups, such as pick-and-place, machine-tending and general assembly. These include:
• remote error recovery, allowing operators to log in rapidly and use VR to pick up items that have been dropped;
• rapid reprogramming using gestures to pick different items or to tend to new machines; and
• allowing technicians to perform non-routine tasks across several sites remotely.

“While industrial robots have been used at manufacturing sites for decades, they have always relied on heavy operator involvement to complete non-uniform tasks or support error recovery,” explains Extend Robotics’ business development director, Azmat Hossain. “Through our Amas platform, we hope to help industrial robot users to unlock much greater functionality from their existing asset base.

“For example, if a robot fails to complete its pre-programmed task, a remote operator can simply connect to the unit and restart the process, without the need for a physical on-site presence,” he adds. “As a result, one operator can conceivably oversee multiple lines or sites from a single location.”

Extend Robotics’ VR technology allows operators to control robots remotely

“Extend Robotics’ Amas platform is an incredibly exciting development which can help manufacturers not only to achieve more flexibility and productivity from their industrial robots, but also enable operators to be trained and upskilled at a much faster pace,” says Barry Weller, Mitsubishi UK’s mechatronics product manager. “With the manufacturing skills crisis showing no sign of relenting, intuitive technology such as the Amas platform with have an important role to play going forward.”

MitsubishiX  LinkedIn

Extend RoboticsX  LinkedIn

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