WO2013029658A1 - Enabling device transferring robot control signals - Google Patents

Enabling device transferring robot control signals Download PDF

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Publication number
WO2013029658A1
WO2013029658A1 PCT/EP2011/064887 EP2011064887W WO2013029658A1 WO 2013029658 A1 WO2013029658 A1 WO 2013029658A1 EP 2011064887 W EP2011064887 W EP 2011064887W WO 2013029658 A1 WO2013029658 A1 WO 2013029658A1
Authority
WO
WIPO (PCT)
Prior art keywords
robot
enabling
control
manipulator
operator control
Prior art date
Application number
PCT/EP2011/064887
Other languages
French (fr)
Inventor
Ralph SJÖBERG
Mats Myhr
Olov Nylén
Original Assignee
Abb Technology Ag
Priority date (The priority date is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the date listed.)
Filing date
Publication date
Application filed by Abb Technology Ag filed Critical Abb Technology Ag
Priority to PCT/EP2011/064887 priority Critical patent/WO2013029658A1/en
Publication of WO2013029658A1 publication Critical patent/WO2013029658A1/en

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Classifications

    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J13/00Controls for manipulators
    • BPERFORMING OPERATIONS; TRANSPORTING
    • B25HAND TOOLS; PORTABLE POWER-DRIVEN TOOLS; MANIPULATORS
    • B25JMANIPULATORS; CHAMBERS PROVIDED WITH MANIPULATION DEVICES
    • B25J13/00Controls for manipulators
    • B25J13/06Control stands, e.g. consoles, switchboards

Abstract

The present invention relates to an industrial robot system (11) comprising a robot that comprises a manipulator (12) and a robot controller (13) arranged to control the manipulator, and an enabling device (16) arranged to be connected via a first wire (17) to the robot controller, which upon activation is arranged to enable manual operation of the manipulator. The enabling device is further arranged to be connected to, and receive robot control signals from, an operator control device (14) via which the robot is arranged to be manually operated, and to transfer the received robot control signals to the robot controller via the first wire. The enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing.

Description

ENABLING DEVICE TRANSFERRING ROBOT CONTROL SIGNALS TECHNICAL FIELD
The invention relates to an industrial robot system and a method of controlling an industrial robot. BACKGROUND
An industrial robot is comprised of a robot controller and a manipulator and is programmed to carry out work along a predetermined operating path. In order to program or teach the robot the work, the manipulator is manipulated to positions along the desired operating path via the robot controller. These positions are stored as instructions in a memory in the robot controller. Other information, such as desired robot movement velocity, may also be stored in the memory. During operation of the robot, the program instructions are executed, thereby making the robot operate as desired.
The person controlling the robot is denoted an operator or user. An industrial robot can be operated in different operation modes. For example, when the robot is put in manual operation mode, the robot is controlled by means of a portable operator control device, generally denoted a Teach Pendant Unit (TPU). The TPU is used for manually controlling the robot, for example to teach or program the manipulator to follow an operating path. The TPU may also be used for monitoring the robot program, changing certain variables in the program and starting, stopping and editing the program.
In practice, one or more manipulators are located in a designated (enclosed) area referred to as a robot cell, and one or more corresponding robot controllers are located in, or in connection to, the robot cell and communicates with the respective
manipulator via wire. The TPU normally comprises operator control means and a visual display unit. The operator control means usually is a joystick, a jog dial, a ball, a set of buttons or any combination of these such that a designated manipulator can be controlled.
Manipulators are typically heavy and bulky devices which move very fast, and great measures of safety must be taken for an operator to be able to control a manipulator within the robot cell to avoid any risk of injury. Therefore, the TPU further comprises an enabling device which contains an on-button, an off-button and an emergency- button. For the robot controller to be able to control a given manipulator, the operator must push the on-button such that power is provided to the manipulator. Operating the off-button shuts the power down of the manipulator that the operator controls, while a push of the emergency button shuts down all manipulators in the cell. Any person moving into the robot cell must for safety reasons hold the enabling device in his or her hand.
Hence, an operator wishing to control a robot must for control and safety reasons have access to both the operator control means and the enabling device. Therefore, these functional entities are combined into one single device in the form of a TPU which is connected to the robot controller in order to control a designated manipulator.
Now, prior art TPUs are associated with the drawback that they are specific-purpose controllers manufactured exclusively for controlling a particular type, or particular family of robots. This drawback has as a consequence that prior art TPUs become complex and expensive.
SUMMARY
An object of the present invention is to solve or at least mitigate these problems in the art.
This object is achieved in a first aspect of the present invention by an industrial robot system comprising a robot that comprises a manipulator and a robot controller arranged to control the manipulator, and an enabling device arranged to be connected via a first wire to the robot controller, which upon activation is arranged to enable manual operation of the robot. The enabling device is further arranged to be connected to, and receive robot control signals from, an operator control device via which the robot is arranged to be manually operated, and to transfer the received robot control signals to the robot controller via the wire. The enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing.
The object is achieved in a second aspect of the present invention by a method of controlling an industrial robot comprising a manipulator and a robot controller arranged to control the manipulator, the method comprising the steps of sending enabling signals via a first wire from an enabling device to trie robot controller, which enabling signals enable manual operation of the manipulator; and receiving robot control signals at the enabling device and transferring the robot control signals to the robot controEer for manual operation of the manipulator By arranging the operator control device and enabling device into two separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing and having them communicate with each other, it is possible to use less complex hardware for robot control. The enabling device will be located at the robot controller and connected to the robot controller via wire. In order to have an operator control the robot via the operator control device, the enabling device must be activated, typically by pushing and holding an enable button on the enabling device. As previously mentioned, the enabling device basically contains an on-button, an off-button and an emergency-button. Thus, the enabling device in practice comprises a couple of switches and some push buttons. Consequently, the enabling device in itself is a fairly non-complex and inexpensive device. However, with the present invention, the problem in the art of utilizing the special-purpose TPU is overcome. Instead, an operator control device connected to the enabling device is used for controlling the robot and particularly for controlling movement of the manipulator.
In an embodiment of the present invention, the enabling device is arranged to be connected via wire to the operator control device. The enabling device and the operator control device are arranged with an appropriate interface for interconnection such as for example universal serial bus (USB). Possibly, adapting cables and/ or connectors may have to be used for connecting the two devices.
In another embodiment of the present invention, the enabling device is arranged to be wirelessSy connected to the operator control device. This is advantageous since an operator is given more room for manoeuvre and a cable can be avoided.
In yet another embodiment of the present invention, the wireless communication between the operator control device and the enabling device is effected by means of short range communication technology, such as for example Bluetooth or infrared. Since the operator at all times is required to hold the enabling device in her one hand in order to push and hold the enabling button to enable control of the robot, while actually controlling movement of the manipulator with the operator control device placed in her other hand, it is highly advantageous to carry out the wireless communication between the enabling device and the operator control device with short range communication technology. Advantages brought about by this particular embodiment is that less operator control device output power is required, and further that the risk of causing disturbance and interference with other robots is decreased.
In a further embodiment of the present invention, the operator control device is handheld. Since the operator will typically operate the enabling device with her one hand and the operator control device with the other, it is advantageous to design the operator control device to be small and light-weight such that the operator easily can hold and manoeuvre the device.
In yet a further embodiment of the present invention, the operator control device is a general purpose device, such as e.g. a personal digital assistant (PDA), a smart phone or the like, equipped with appropriate software for controlling the robot. By using a general purpose device, it is possible to provide relatively inexpensive robot control in that available and readily accessible hardware in the form of for instance a smart phone is utilized. In the smart phone, an appropriate control program is downloaded, and the robot is controlled via the smart phone display, buttons and wireless Bluetooth interface or a wired interface such as USB.
In another embodiment of the present invention, the enabling device is handheld. Similar to the previously mentioned embodiment where the operator control device is handheld, it is advantageous to design the enabling device to be small and light-weight such that the operator easily can hold and manoeuvre the enabling device.
In still another embodiment of the present invention, one or both of the enabling device and the operator control device are arranged with an indicator for indicating wireless communication between the enabling device and the operator control device. Advantageously, since the enabling device and the operator control device are closely separated when in operation, there is no need to initiate a tedious and complex procedure for ensuring that a given operator control device (among potentially many) actually is associated with the correct enabling device. With the present invention, the operator knows that by holding the operator control device close to a designated enabling device, the associating procedure is carried through and the operator can be assured that she actually is communicating with the intended robot. Further advantageously, one or more indicators can be used for indicating that the wireless communication is activated, i.e. for indicating when a wireless interface has been set-up between the enabling device and the operator control device. Further features of, and advantages with, the present invention will become apparent when studying the appended claims and the following description. Those skilled in the art realize that different features of the present invention can be combined to create embodiments other than those described in the following.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
The invention is now described, by way of example, with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which:
Figure 1 shows a prior art industrial robot system;
Figure 2 shows an embodiment of an industrial robot system according to the present invention; and Figure 3 shows another embodiment of an industrial robot system according to the present invention.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION
The invention will now be described more fully hereinafter with reference to the accompanying drawings, in which certain embodiments of the invention are shown. This invention may, however, be embodied in many different forms and should not be construed as limited to the embodiments set forth herein; rather, these embodiments are provided by way of example so that this disclosure will be thorough and complete, and will fully convey the scope of the invention to those skilled in the art.
Figure 1 shows a prior art industrial robot system 1 comprising a manipulator 2, a robot controller 3 for controlling the manipulator, and a portable operator control device 4 referred to as a T'PU for manually operating the manipulator. The TPU communicates with the robot controller via a cable 5. The TPU typically comprises a display 6 and control means 7 for manually operating the manipulator, in this case illustrated in the form of a joystick. The TPU further comprises an enabling device that comprises an enabling button or handle 9 which must be pushed and held by the operator such that the robot can be controlled. Once the operator releases the enabling handle, the robot cannot be controlled by the TPU. Thus, the enabling handle practically constitutes an on-button which continuously must be activated for control to be possible. The enabling device further comprises an off-button and an emergency-button. Operating the off-button shuts the power down, of the particular manipulator that the operator controls, while a push of the emergency button shuts down all manipulators in a cell 10, in case a number of robots are located in the same cell. Any person moving into the robot cell must for safety reasons hold the enabling device in his or her hand. Figure 2 shows an embodiment of an industrial robot system 11 according to the present invention. The industrial robot system 11 comprises a manipulator 12, a robot controller 13 for controlling the manipulator, an enabling device 16 which upon activation is arranged to enable manual operation of the robot, and a portable operator control device 14 for manually operating the manipulator. As can be seen, the enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing. In this particular embodiment, the operator control device is a smart phone comprising a touch-screen that operator manipulates to control the robot. When manipulating the smart phone 14, control signals are sent via a second wire 15 to the enabling device 16 which transfers the control signals to the robot controller via a first wire 17 such that the manipulator is controlled in an intended manner. Again, the enabling device comprises an enabling button which must be pushed and held by the operator such that the robot can be controlled. Once the operator releases the enabling button, the robot cannot be controlled by the operator control device 14. The enabling device further comprises an off-button and an emergenc ·■ button. Operating the off-button shuts the power down of the particular manipulator that the operator controls, while a push of the emergency button shuts down all manipulators in a cell 10, in case a number of robots are located in the same cell. Any person moving into the robot cell must for safety reasons hold the enabling device in his or her hand. Figure 3 shows a further embodiment of an industrial robot system 11 according to the present invention. The industrial robot system 11 comprises a manipulator 12, a robot controller 13 for controlling the manipulator, an enabling device 16 which upon Ί activation is arranged to enable manual operation of the robot, and a portable operator control device 14 for manually operating the manipulator. As can be seen, the enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing, In this particular embodiment, the operator control device is a smart phone comprising a touch-screen that operator manipulates to control the robot. When manipulating the smart phone 14, control signals are sent via wireless interface 18 using e.g. Bluetooth to the enabling device 16 which transfers the control signals to the robot controller via the first wire 17 such that the manipulator is controlled in an intended manner. Again, the enabling device comprises an enabling button which must be pushed and held by the operator such that the robot can be controlled. Once the operator releases the enabling button, the robot cannot be controlled by the operator control device 14. The enabling device further comprises an off-button and an emergency-button. Operating the off-button shuts the power down of the particular manipulator that the operator controls, while a push of the emergency button shuts down all manipulators in a cell 10, in case a number of robots are located in the same cell. Any person moving into the robot cell must for safety reasons hold the enabling device in bis or her hand.
Advantageously, in an embodiment of the present invention, the enabling device and the operator control device being arranged in two individual and separate housings can be attached together by suitable mechanical fastening means which is substantially rigid to enable the handling of the two devices as a single unit yet enabling fast detaching when need arises. Fo example, the fastening means may comprise a rack arranged to receive the two devices. Or, alternatively, the enabling device may comprise a docking station arranged to physically receive the operator control device and to simultaneously operatively connect the operator control device to the enabling device. This facilitates handling of the enabling device and the operator control device.
Even though the invention has been described with reference to specific exemplifying embodiments thereof, many different alterations, modifications and the like will become apparent for those skilled in the art. The described embodiments are therefore not intended to limit the scope of the invention, as defined by the appended claims.

Claims

1. An industfial robot system (11) comprising:
a robot comprising a manipulator (12) and a robot controller (13) arranged to control said manipulator; and
an enabling device (16) arranged to be connected via a first wire (17) to the robot controller, which upon activation is arranged to enable manual operation of the manipulator, and further being arranged to be connected to, and receive robot control signals from, an operator control device (14) via which the manipulator is arranged to be manually operated, and to transfer the received robot control signals to the robot controller via the first wire,
characterized in that the enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing.
2. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 1, wherein the enabling device is arranged to be connected via a second wire (15) to the operator control device.
3. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 1, wherein the enabling device is arranged to be wirelessly connected (18) to the operator control device.
4. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 3, wherein the wireless
connection (18) between the operator control device (14) and the enabling device (16) is effected by means of using a short-range communication technology.
5. The industrial robot system ( 1) according to any one of the preceding claims, further comprising said operator control device (14).
6. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 5, wherein the operator control device (14) is handheld.
7. The industrial robot system (11) according to claims 5 or 6, wherein the operator control device (14) is a general purpose device.
8. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 7, wherein the operator control device (14) is a personal digital assistant or a smart phone.
9. The industrial robot system (11) according to any one of the preceding claims, wherein the enabling device (16) is handheld.
10. The industrial robot system (11) according to claim 3, wherein one or both of the enabling device (16) and the operator control device (14) are arranged with an indicator for indicating wireless connection (15) between the enabling device and the operator control device.
11. The industrial robot system (11) according to any one of the preceding claims, the industrial robot system further comprising fastening means for attaching the enabling device and the operator control device rigidly together for enabling the handling of the two devices as a single unit.
12. A method of controlling an industrial robot comprising a manipulator (12) and a robot controller (13) arranged to control said manipulator, the method comprising the steps of:
sending enabling signals via a first wire (17) from an enabling device (16) to the robot controller, which enabling signals enable manual operation of the manipulator; and
receiving robot control signals at the enabling device and transferring the robot control signals to the robot controller for manual operation of the manipulator.
The method of controlling an industrial robot according to claim 12, the enabling device (16) receiving robot control signals from an operator control device (14), wherein the enabling device and the operator control device are separate devices each comprised in a respective individual housing.
14. The method of controlling an industrial robot according to claims 12 or 13, wherein the enabling device receives the robot control signals via a second wire (15).
15. The method of controlling an industrial robot according to claim 12 or 13, wherein the robot control signals are received via wireless communication ( 8).
16. The method of controlling an industrial robot according to claim 15, wherein the wireless communication (18) is effected by means of using a short-range communication technology.
PCT/EP2011/064887 2011-08-30 2011-08-30 Enabling device transferring robot control signals WO2013029658A1 (en)

Priority Applications (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2011/064887 WO2013029658A1 (en) 2011-08-30 2011-08-30 Enabling device transferring robot control signals

Applications Claiming Priority (1)

Application Number Priority Date Filing Date Title
PCT/EP2011/064887 WO2013029658A1 (en) 2011-08-30 2011-08-30 Enabling device transferring robot control signals

Publications (1)

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WO2013029658A1 true WO2013029658A1 (en) 2013-03-07

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Cited By (6)

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DE102015206571B3 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-08-04 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device with an adapter device for a mobile terminal
DE102015206578B3 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-08-04 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device, and associated method
DE102015206575A1 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-10-13 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device, an electronically communicating device and system, and associated method
EP3249480A1 (en) * 2014-05-08 2017-11-29 Beet, LLC Automation interface
DE102016225686A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-21 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot Controller
DE102016225687A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-21 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot controller with an additional holder for a tablet computer

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EP1728601A1 (en) * 2005-06-03 2006-12-06 Abb Ab An industrial robot system with a teaching portable unit and a detecting unit for detecting when the TPU leaves the robot cell
EP1782928A1 (en) * 2005-11-08 2007-05-09 Asea Brown Boveri Ab An industrial robot system with more than one TPU
EP2194434A1 (en) * 2008-12-05 2010-06-09 COMAU SpA Robot system

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WO2006049554A1 (en) * 2004-11-04 2006-05-11 Abb Ab Industrial robot system
EP1719588A1 (en) * 2005-05-02 2006-11-08 Abb Research Ltd. A robot control system comprising a portable operating device with safety equipment
EP1728601A1 (en) * 2005-06-03 2006-12-06 Abb Ab An industrial robot system with a teaching portable unit and a detecting unit for detecting when the TPU leaves the robot cell
EP1782928A1 (en) * 2005-11-08 2007-05-09 Asea Brown Boveri Ab An industrial robot system with more than one TPU
EP2194434A1 (en) * 2008-12-05 2010-06-09 COMAU SpA Robot system

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Cited By (14)

* Cited by examiner, † Cited by third party
Publication number Priority date Publication date Assignee Title
CN109507943A (en) * 2014-05-08 2019-03-22 比特有限责任公司 Automatic interface
US10599133B2 (en) 2014-05-08 2020-03-24 Beet, Llc Automation interface
EP3249480A1 (en) * 2014-05-08 2017-11-29 Beet, LLC Automation interface
DE102015206575A1 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-10-13 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device, an electronically communicating device and system, and associated method
EP3081347A3 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-11-23 KUKA Roboter GmbH Manual robot control apparatus, device and system using same for electronic communication, and associated method
US9981378B2 (en) 2015-04-13 2018-05-29 Kuka Deutschland Gmbh Handheld robot operation unit with an adapter device for a mobile terminal device
US10099383B2 (en) 2015-04-13 2018-10-16 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Handheld robot operation unit and corresponding method
DE102015206578B3 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-08-04 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device, and associated method
DE102015206571B3 (en) * 2015-04-13 2016-08-04 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robotic hand-held device with an adapter device for a mobile terminal
WO2018114031A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-28 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot control console comprising an additional holder for a tablet computer
WO2018114316A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-28 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot control console
DE102016225687B4 (en) 2016-12-20 2019-01-10 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot controller with an additional holder for a tablet computer
DE102016225686A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-21 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot Controller
DE102016225687A1 (en) 2016-12-20 2018-06-21 Kuka Roboter Gmbh Robot controller with an additional holder for a tablet computer

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