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Can Unmanned Aerial Systems Find Their Own Way in Caves?

SwRI's onboard mapping software generates camera vision data for real-time navigation

Earlier this year we had the opportunity to meet with space scientists, cavers, and roboticists to discuss the future of cave exploration for both on- and off-world environments at the 4th International Planetary Caves Conference in Lanzarote, Spain. A topic often discussed in the space community is how to effectively use robots to perform the range of exploration tasks necessary for previously unexplored environments, such as caves.

Transitioning Spacecraft to FPGA Computing for Faster Machine Learning Object Detection

Digitized outline of the brain divided into four sections depicting car networks, AI, security and robotics with the words Intelligent Systems Insights

Computing in space tends to be constrained by the size, weight, power and cost of radiation-hardened systems that can fit on spacecraft. Historically, these constraints have ruled out deployment of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) applications, which require substantial memory and power to automate image detection and other tasks.

Machine Vision Enables Advanced Automation

Humans can see damage to a propeller blade under normal light and feel damaged areas with touch.

Many manufacturing processes operate using fixed or hard automation equipment that perform production tasks with limited sensory inputs. For more complex applications, simple cameras or sensors can detect an object’s presence, position, size, or thickness. Machine vision solutions can be applied when objects are more complex, less constrained, or their appearance needs to be evaluated. This blog post will review three applications to provide insights into machine vision’s role in advanced automation.

The ROS 1 vs ROS 2 Transition

Illustration of how various parts in a manufacturing system can be orchestrated to automate tasks

The Robot Operating System (ROS) was first released by Open Robotics in 2007 with the intent to provide open-source software frameworks, tools and libraries for robot development. A typical ROS system is comprised of independent nodes that can communicate with each other through publisher/subscriber relationships. A key part that makes ROS so useful in robotic development is that these nodes do not need to be on the same system or even used by the same architecture. This flexibility makes ROS easily adaptable to the needs of the user.

Getting Started in Safety for Robotics Automation

Robot Welding Automotive Part

Whether you are adding another piece of automation to your factory floor or debating whether bringing automation into your operation is right for your business, there is a lot to consider. From new equipment to reorganizing floor space for the new set-up, you will have a laundry list of tasks to complete before your newly automated system is ready to use. One of the most important items on that list will be safety. How do you ensure this system is safe for those working around it? What additional items should be on the shopping list to aid in safety? What do you base your safety decisions around?

Cybersecurity in the Age of Connected Industrial Robotics

Go to blog post: Cybersecurity in the Age of Connected Industrial Robotics

Industrial robotics continue to rise in levels of autonomy, intelligence and complexity, which enables them to fill more roles within the manufacturing process. However, as those systems rise in their independence, the need to ensure they are secure against cyberattacks has risen accordingly. Identifying the risks to robotics systems and corresponding solutions will help prevent costly cyberattacks to industrial control systems in the future.

Designing a Confined Space Robot for Complex Tasks with High Force Processes

amc confined space robot

One of the biggest drivers for automation is keeping humans out of dangerous situations. While significant effort has been invested in automating dangerous tasks in open environments, similar focus has not been placed on applying automation technologies to confined spaces. A major obstacle to this has been developing systems that can move in a physically constrained environment yet also have the stability to carry out high-force processes such as drilling, sanding, contact sensing and media blasting

Robotic Inkjet Printing on 3D Surfaces

robotic inkjet printer

Inkjet printing methods on 2D surfaces have been a mature technology for many years within the high-resolution printing domain. Today, this technology is being expanded to 3D surfaces via robotic systems. At Southwest Research Institute, a large-scale prototype with industrial inkjet printing heads mounted to a robotic manipulator was developed, enabling digital graphic printing on 3D surfaces. Initially created for the aerospace industry, this inkjet prototype system was developed to apply colored graphics, also known as liveries, to the exterior of commercial aircraft. Since being demonstrated in 2019, SwRI has developed inkjet systems for other markets including automotive and logistics—printing both multi-colored graphics and non-graphical, functional fluids.

Using Machine Learning for Methane Leak Detection and Quantification

black and white image with red and blue plumes of gas shown

Methane emissions are a critical topic of interest as government and industry address rapid warming of the global climate. Methane, a potent greenhouse gas, traps heat in the atmosphere at a much higher rate than carbon dioxide (CO2). Methane also makes up a significant percentage of fugitive emissions from oil and gas infrastructure that scientists have been trying to detect for many years.

No-Code Development for Robotics

This image depicts how a robot can predict collisions between robots and humans

The no-code development movement describes the proliferation of tools and frameworks that enable people untrained in traditional coding languages to develop useful software.