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Robots 14 in Sweden.

Officially the name of the Conference was 14th International Symposium on Industrial Robots. The place was Gothenburg, Sweden. I have a sentimental attachment to this series of meetings since I was one of the charter members of the speakers group at the first such Symposium, held at IITRI in Chicago in 1970 under memorably unfavorable conditions.

It is interesting to meet a few of the old guard and reminisce how "'ve come a long way baby..." No one seems to know whatever happened to Dennis Hannify, the young staffer with a fire under him who made all the arrangements on behalf of the Institute. He seemed destined to be a top man in Robotics.

The ceremonial highlight of No 14 was the presentation of the Joseph F Engelberger Awards to three experts for outstanding achievement in the areas of technology development, application, and education. These went to: James Albus, Chief of the Industrial Systems Div, National Bureau of Standards, USA; Cesare Bracco, VP and General Director of Manufacturing, Fiat Auto, Italy; and William Tanner, President, Productivity Systems Inc, USA. Each got a medallion and a $1000 honorarium.

The ceremony included the 1984 ASEA Robotics Award to Wilhelm Kirch of the Automation Technology Dept, Ford Motor Co, Colonge, Germany. In the course of installing hundreds of industrial robots in several European countries, his work has included new solutions based on adaptive controls and sensor techniques. That award includes expenses paid to attend the Robot Symposium held each year in Europe, Japan or the USA, plus personal expenses of $500 and a commemorative golden robot model.

Although the actual handing out of the awards was done by King Carl Gustaf XVI of Sweden in the presence of Engelberger himself (regarded as the "father of industrial robotics"), neither of those dignitaries delivered any messages of their wisdom to the audience. The story I got at the reception was that protocol makes it difficult for Kings to share podiums with other dignitaries.

Prab Robots President Walter Weisel, also president of the Robotic Industries Association (USA), looked justly proud of his countrymen's role in the world-class affair that involved 1100 people, held concurrently with Robots and Scan-automatic exhibitions with 40,000 visitors.

The Swedish national pride was in evidence at this conference. They said that the Swedes lead the world in the use of industrial robots when measured by robots per 10,000 people employed in manufacturing. By this parameter the country that claims paternal position ranks fourth (Japan = No 2, Germany = No 3).

Sweden's ASEA Robotics was celebrating 10 years in the robots business. They were not only big on the conference program, they were also big on the Exhibition floor. Their exhibits reflect the contrast between the 14th and 1st Symposium. Robot makers today are much more applications oriented and they show this by having their exhibits actually doing things that customers want to see done. In this case it was gluing, spotwelding, assembly, and a production cell that were simulated.

IBM had printed a 64-pg pocket-size book to explain their "first time in Europe" display of a wide range of products and selection of advanced applications. Flying under the banner of Computer Integrated Manufacturing (CIM), their advanced manufacturing systems were versions of installations running in their factories. In addition to the one shown on the opposite page, there was a CIM system cell: From CADAM to production; also a component insertion system with different docking stations and a flexible transportation system; plus another insertion machine with multiple operations at a single robot station.

Another contrast from the early years is the great amount of interest shown in machine vision at both the Conference and on the show floor. The most popular show demo is to place a ball (no matter how you look at it, it seems to have the same orientation) at random locations on a target surface and have the robot see where it is and go pick it up.

A different version of looking at robots was demonstrated by Spine Robotics. Two cameras were looking at LEDs on the robot wrist. The in-motion position of the robot is continually monitored. Their program converts 2-D images from the two cameras into a 3-D result. Called the Selspine Robot Check, a user could see if any robot so monitored was still going through its programmed paths.
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Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:International Symposium on Industrial Robots
Author:Keebler, Jim
Publication:Tooling & Production
Date:Jan 1, 1985
Previous Article:Autofact Europe 84 conference in Switzerland.
Next Article:World-class CIM in America.

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