Robot arm with IDS cameras

Pick and Place: Precise to the point

3D imaging solution with 2D cameras, AI and robotics optimizes manufacturing landscape

The manufacturing industry is currently facing a number of challenges. Technological change, pressing environmental issues and globalization require a number of adjustments, such as investing in new technologies, conserving resources and optimizing and securing supply chains. Global companies must compete in the face of a changing environment while managing supply chain issues. Relocating production back to the domestic market is increasingly an option in this context. This requires not only resilience, but also compliance with strict environmental regulations and cost-effective strategies to make domestic manufacturing competitive. Moreover, anyone who wants to ensure the competitiveness of domestic production must overcome personnel bottlenecks. Automation through robotics has long since become the driving force here, and artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly taking on a key role. This technology is developing just as rapidly as automation pressure is increasing. In order to map production processes in one's own company with AI, the simplest possible AI integration and the shortening of training phases are already decisive factors. This is where British startup Cambrian Robotics Limited comes in with a fully AI-based solution for diverse robotics applications in manufacturing. It handles fast bin picking or pick-and-place, the precise feeding of parts for machines, and various work steps in material handling - for the benefit of greater efficiency in assembly tasks or warehouse logistics. The easy-to-integrate system consists of a module for robotic arms, a computing unit with pre-installed intelligent software, and a camera module, each equipped in series with two uEye+ XCP cameras from IDS.

"The task of the cameras is to take a picture of the area with the objects to be handled. Based on the footage, the software can analyze the scene and identify where exactly the objects are located," explains Miika Satori, founder and CEO of Cambrian Robotics. Further processing of the images is done using the heart of Cambrian Vision - a self-learning software developed in-house to predict the part position as well as its pick points. This takes care of image matching on an AI basis, so there is no need for a classic 3D point cloud. Based on simulated data, the AI learns independently and locates the removal points and parts extremely precisely. The AI models for part recognition and communication with the robot are controlled by a powerful GPU (Graphics Processing Unit). And the software learns quickly: "With the Cambrian software package, pick points for new parts can be defined and the application configured in just two to five minutes," startup founder Satori points out.

Robot arm locates and grips parts using two IDS cameras and intelligent software
A robotic arm locates and grips parts using two IDS cameras and intelligent Cambrian software

The associated camera module is equipped with two space-saving uEye XCP industrial cameras. "Using the stereovision principle, the two IDS cameras provide images of the object scene from different viewing angles. The challenge is to determine the position of the part to be gripped as accurately as possible from these images. This, in turn, is the task of AI," says Miika Satori. The combination of image acquisition, AI models and special image processing makes it possible to determine acquisition points and positions particularly precisely. "Standard CAD applications for 3D bin picking often use structured light for this, or sensors that project something onto the environment, create a point cloud, and then try to find the part within it. Cambrian uses only two standard IDS industrial cameras instead of a 3D camera."

"Compared to competing systems, Cambrian-Vision is more accurate while being more robust to external light effects, can detect a very wide range of objects, and enables particularly fast cycle times."

— Miika Satori, Founder and CEO of Cambrian Robotics —
Two IDS cameras on robot arm provide images for fast and accurate bin picking applications
Two IDS cameras on robot arm provide images for fast and accurate further processing using intelligent software

With an accuracy of less than one millimeter, Cambrian Vision is also much more accurate than competing systems. "The system reliably detects a wide range of parts, including shiny, reflective or transparent components, where conventional vision systems often reach their limits. At the same time, it remains robust against external light conditions," says Miika Satori, describing the special requirements for the cameras, which are a fundamental part of the solution. "In addition, the system is super-fast, with an inference speed of less than 170 milliseconds, whereas it often takes more than 1000 milliseconds for comparable solutions." The fast calculation time allows cycle times of two to three seconds in a bin picking setting. "This ensures efficient, precise and accurate execution in a single pass," emphasizes Miika Satori. This makes the One-Shot system currently one of the fastest AI image recognition systems on the market.

This is made possible not least by the SuperSpeed USB 5 Gbps cameras, which reliably deliver high-resolution data for detailed image analysis in any environment, explicitly in applications with low ambient light or changing lighting conditions. Thanks to BSI ("Back Side Illumination") pixel technology, the integrated sensor (1/2.5" 5.04 MPixel rolling shutter CMOS sensor onsemi AR0521) offers stable low-light performance as well as high sensitivity in the NIR (near infrared) range, so that the uEye XCPs deliver high-quality images in almost any lighting situation - with low pixel noise at the same time. With its small, lightweight full housing (29 x 29 x 17 millimeters, 61 grams) and screwable USB Micro-B connector, the USB3 XCP is particularly suitable for use in combination with robots and cobots in the field of automation.

"Depending on customer requirements, we use other IDS cameras in our system. The standardized interface enables rapid deployment of a wide variety of uEye models."

— Miika Satori, Founder and CEO of Cambrian Robotics —

Thanks to USB3 and Vision Standard compatibility (U3V / GenICam), the uEye XCP cameras can be easily integrated into any image processing system and can basically be used with any suitable software. The simple integration via the standard interface is particularly advantageous for Miika Satori: "Depending on customer requirements, we use other IDS cameras in our system. The standardized interface enables rapid deployment of a wide variety of uEye models." Compatibility with popular lenses makes a wide range of cameras from the IDS portfolio suitable as eyes for customized Cambrian Vision solutions, playing a key role in maximizing production performance.

The top speed, the particularly high light insensitivity and the wide component bandwidth that the system achieves thanks to the powerful IDS cameras and intelligent software make it particularly interesting for automation tasks in the production environment.

Another key to efficiency is the straightforward integration of Cambrian Vision. The intelligent 3D vision system is ready for immediate use without any real robot training - a remarkable acceleration compared to conventional methods. Companies can therefore quickly reap the benefits of automation: They conserve resources and save costs by operating more efficiently, competitively and sustainably, while improving the quality of their products and the safety of their employees.

Powerful CPU to control the AI models for part recognition and communication with the robot
A powerful CPU controls the AI models for part recognition and communication with the robot


"The use of AI in robotics is just beginning and is still in its infancy," Miika Satori states. Due to the growing demand, the development in the field of image processing with AI will be further advanced, cameras with higher data rates as well as faster and larger sensors will come onto the market, as well as further price-optimized models with reliable basic functions. "Industrial cameras are getting smaller and more affordable. This will enable even more applications. Our vision is to give robots capabilities on the same level as humans." By using AI-powered robots for mundane and repetitive tasks, human resources can be redirected to more creative, productive, and valuable tasks.

IDS uEye XCP - the industry's smallest housing camera with C-mount

uEye XCP - the industry's smallest housing camera with C-mount

Model used: U3-3680XCP
Camera family: uEye XCP

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