There are numerous approaches to robot guidance using machine vision techniques, such as stereo vision and photogrammetry, time of flight, structured light, light coding, and laser triangulation.

Choosing the Best Machine Vision Technique for Robot Guidance
Choosing the Best Machine Vision Technique for Robot Guidance

Matt Edwards | Kingstar

The use of machine vision for robot guidance offers new industrial operations possibilities, but also creates complex safety design challenges. This is because it is applied to machinery that operates with high repeatability and low latency, especially in complex industrial sectors. Machine vision systems must deal with critical industrial issues like lighting conditions, texture-less surfaces, and undetermined and moving objects. Therefore, effective robot guidance requires specific machine vision sensors and techniques.

There are numerous approaches to robot guidance using machine vision techniques, such as stereo vision and photogrammetry, time of flight, structured light, light coding, and laser triangulation. The technique ideal for a specific application depends on its requirements. To determine the ideal machine vision technique to apply, consider the application’s goal and its type of robot, as well as factors including:

  • The range of the sensor: The working distance is determined by environment configuration, accessibility of the robot, and size of the sensor.
  • The accuracy of resolution and point cloud alignment: Resolution and point cloud alignment are determined by the hardware. They should be consistent with the application purpose and size of the object.
  • Light weight: If a sensor is mounted in the end effector or on-board, a robot operates on limited max load weight to achieve its full dynamics.
  • Processing time: Processing duration is important in determining whether a system is ideal for a specified application, especially when it is applied to robots with safety constraints like the ability to sense and prevent collisions with obstacles and humans. Some machine vision techniques operate with static cameras and objects so they cannot be applied in moving processes.
  • Safety issues: Although robots can operate independently, they require human intervention and also work closely with industry employees. Therefore, sensors should prevent dangerous high-powered lasers to reduce the risk of accidents in automated industries.
  • Scanning environment: The slightest environmental fault in vibrations, lighting conditions or camera movements can affect the quality of 3D point cloud greatly. Hence, such interferences should be avoided by scanning the environment prior to engagement.
  • Hardware and software integration: Cameras are automatically controlled by an external source as well as their robot central control unit. As such, impromptu developments are oriented towards hardware and software integration. Most commercial machine vision systems are connected to a robot that is in turn controlled by external software.
  • Budget: Apart from technical issues, an industry’s budget should be considered when choosing the ideal machine vision technique to implement. The right solution should balance cost and performance.

These factors are a starting point for selecting the ideal technique for an industrial application. However, further research can provide more information about techniques like structured light, laser triangulation, and stereo vision, which can offer acceptable accuracy when implemented under particular conditions.


The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of RoboticsTomorrow


KINGSTAR Soft Motion Platform empowers you to dramatically reduce cost, time and complexity of hardware used for precision motion positioning and machine vision systems, with an industrial-grade real-time software-only solution. KINGSTAR's soft motion library and software PLC, built on EtherCAT standards and a real-time 64-bit Windows operating system, accelerate your time-to-market and enhance your efficiency and productivity with PC-based motion controllers for industrial machines.

Other Articles

5 Things You Need to Know About Motion Control Systems
A motion control system is any system that entails the use of moving parts in a coordinated way. Most of the technology used in mechanical engineering is a result of the development and implementation of motion control systems.
The Software-Based Platform for Motion Control, Machine Vision, and Programmable Logic Controllers
Besides being expensive and proprietary, migrating to newer products is challenging when hardware components are involved.
Eric the Robot – the Start of the Inevitable Future of Humans and Robots Living Harmoniously
In this evolving environment, can trainable robots and cobots go from tradeshow wow factor to actual industrial automation standard components, or will they go the way of Eric and be lost because the industry was too slow to take advantage of the available technology?
More about KINGSTAR

Comments (0)

This post does not have any comments. Be the first to leave a comment below.

Post A Comment

You must be logged in before you can post a comment. Login now.

Featured Product



Since Robotmaster V7 uses integrated CAD/CAM functionality, for the first time, the power of Robotmaster can be used by welding, cutting and other process experts without buying or learning complex CAD/CAM software. As in past versions, Robotmaster V7 imports paths, but now makes it even easier for end users to leverage any CAD/CAM tool choice. It is an intuitive tool that anyone could use, with or without robotics expertise. It bridges the gap between robots and manufacturing by providing easy programming solutions for part manufacturing.