Traditional robots can handle heavy loads at high speed, but lack positioning accuracy. Hexapod robots - six-legged parallel-kinematic machines - have a long history in precision optics alignment & micro / nano-manufacturing automation. They were considered overkill for traditional industrial automation applications, but the need for miniaturization and higher precision is rapidly changing the situation. New high-speed fieldbus interfaces facilitate integration with PLC or CNC controllers.
The ST Robotics Workspace Sentry robot and area safety system are based on a small module that sends an infrared beam across the workspace. If the user puts his hand (or any other object) in the workspace, the robot stops using programmable emergency deceleration. Each module has three beams at different angles and the distance a beam reaches is adjustable. Two or more modules can be daisy chained to watch a wider area. "A robot that is tuned to stop on impact may not be safe. Robots where the trip torque can be set at low thresholds are too slow for any practical industrial application. The best system is where the work area has proximity detectors so the robot stops before impact and that is the approach ST Robotics has taken," states President and CEO of ST Robotics David Sands.