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Faculty of Computer Science, Information Technology and Energy

RTU Adds a Collaborative Robot or Cobot to Its Study Facilities

19th of March
«Industrial robots are becoming increasingly human-friendly,» says Matīss Eriņš, lecturer at the Institute of Applied Computer Systems at the RTU Faculty of Computer Science, Information Technology and Energy. Photo: Armands Kaņepe, RTU

In order to provide more opportunities for students to gain practical experience in robotics and automation and to develop skills needed in the labour market, Riga Technical University (RTU) Faculty of Computer Science, Information Technology and Energy (FCSITE) is adding a modern «ABB» collaborative robot or cobot to its equipment, as well as continuing to use the powerful robot simulation and programming tool «RobotStudio®».

«Thanks to the cooperation with «ABB» in the acquisition of the robot and the close support in the development of the practical part of the study process, the Faculty of Computer Science, Information Technology and Energy now covers practically the entire spectrum of industrial robotics both in terms of the technical specifications of robots and their functionality. This is the first interoperable robot purchased by RTU, but certainly not the last,» says Agris Ņikitenko, Dean of the Faculty.

User-friendly robot

The «GoFa CRB 15000» robot, equipped with the latest «ABB OmniCore» controller with the widest range of motion control on the market, has several significant advantages that make it easier for IT students to acquire new skills, but also for people with no prior knowledge of programming, says Matīss Eriņš, a lecturer at the FCSITE Institute of Applied Computer Systems. The robot's movements can be programmed intuitively, he says, by moving the robot's arm along a freely chosen route, which the robot then repeats. The robot also does not require special barriers or fences, as industrial robots do. Thanks to ABB's SafeMove technology, the robot's movements can be restricted by virtual walls, outside of which the robot automatically stops. So a person can work safely alongside the robot, right next to it, performing the same tasks, without endangering themselves or affecting productivity. This ensures maximum flexibility and efficiency in the workplace.

«Industrial robots are becoming more and more human-friendly,» summarises Mr Eriņš.

He is accompanied by Artūrs Agejevs, Head of Robotics and Discrete Automation at «ABB: «Safety and easy programming break down the barriers that prevent companies from automating their production. They no longer need large numbers of highly skilled technicians to implement robotic solutions. In education, the new «GoFa CRB 15000» features also break down the fear of trying and starting with robots. It is much easier to get people interested in trying something new by giving them the opportunity to try it out with their own hands.» He also stresses that the experience gained from working with a cobot will provide young people with the practical skills they need to succeed in today's technology-driven world.

In addition to the robot, «ABB» has provided RTU with the «RobotStudio®» robot simulation and programming tool free of charge, which significantly enhances the learning experience by allowing students to design, simulate and program robot applications in a virtual environment before implementing them in a real working environment. According to M. Eriņš, this tool enables a large number of students to work with a single robot, remotely and at their own convenience. Also, before installing a particular machine, the students worked with «RobotStudio®» to model where and how to best place it in the room, where to place the controller, etc.

Used by students, pupils and researchers

Asked what tasks the «GoFa CRB 15000» is used for in industry, A.Agejevs says it has a wide range of applications, limited only by the user's imagination. For students, too, starting their journey with this robot and simulation tool opens up endless possibilities for research and innovation in robotics and automation.

In the RTU FCSITE laboratory, students will use it to solve various tasks, confirms M. Eriņš. He demonstrates a seemingly simple task: the robot uses computer vision to recognise the blocks, grabs and moves them, puts them in a box, moves them from one box to another, sorts them. This is how the artificial intelligence and image processing algorithms are trained, so that the robot performs tasks more and more deftly and makes fewer mistakes. «The cubes have different facets and shapes that need to be recognised, depending on what the robot's hand needs to pick up, which can also be supplemented with the appropriate tool - fingers or a suction cup. Students first learn how to solve typical problems, tools, applications. Then they can move on to a research task, a new problem, the use of other sensors or methods, another application, for example, a robot can be used to sort waste, scan, add a camera, do quality control,» he explains.

RTU started working with «ABB» in 2011, adding more and more equipment and providing guest lectures. «Supporting education is our global policy,» says A.Agejevs.

The laboratory space showcases several generations of industrial robots used by students and researchers, as well as RTU Engineering High School students. For example, last year undergraduate students used robots to carry out thermography research, while in the «Vertically Integrated Project» programme, students work with students to develop an automated tool and, using «RobotStudio®», a digital twin for quality control, M. Eriņš shares examples.

RTU is also actively using robots in the research process, in the development of innovative solutions, and in cooperation with companies that are learning how to implement robots in robotic solutions. RTU's scientific equipment also includes several KUKA industrial robots and a large-motion range robotic simulator.

RTU papildina aprīkojumu ar jaunu kobotu jeb sadarbības robotu

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