Robotics The Tech
Classroom Activities

Robot Factory

Background

Robot arms are used in production lines often with a conveyor belt carrying materials from robot to robot . Each robot performs a different job -- the ends of each arm are specially designed for each task. Materials must be delivered to each robot in exactly the same way each time since most robots cannot adjust to different situations without being totally reprogrammed.

What to Do

Participants role-play and become a sandwich-cookie factory. The first row of robots (people) put the bottom cookie on the conveyor belt, the second row squirts the filling, the next puts on the top cookie, and the last puts it in a box.

  • Have participants think about their actions.
  • Did they use their whole body?
  • How far did they need to reach?
  • What would happen if one robot worked faster than another?
  • Would each robot need to have the same kind of hand (end effector in robot language)?
  • Robots only have the parts that they need. Many robot arms have joints similar to human arms, but the end effectors are specialized for different tasks.
  • Did they get tired? (Robots are great for repetitive tasks which they can repeat exactly the same over and over with great precision.
  • )
  • How would the cookies have to be arranged so that the right side of the cookie was facing up?
  • In the past, great effort was required to be sure that parts were fed to the robots in the correct arrangement. (In a modern cookie factory, a robot arm has a vision system. The cookies are randomly fed to the robot, and the robot is able to find cookies with the correct side on top. It does this by digitizing visual information from a camera and comparing it to a picture of a correctly positioned cookie. A suction end effector then picks up the cookie and releases it over the correct position on the assembly belt.)

Related exhibits: Adept Sorting Arm, ABB Basketball Arm, Drawing Arm


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