Universal Robots Announces Industry’s First Autonomous Bin Picking Kit

April 13, 2020 by Sophia Valente

Universal Robots announced the development of ActiNav, an innovative solution for machine tending applications. 

Universal Robots New ActiNav

ActiNav seeks to remedy the complications of traditional automated bin picking. Technologies have historically depended on vision-based sorting technologies that do not have the capacity to autonomously install the identified part into its rightful place for further processing.

ActiNav is an application kit that optimizes the bin picking process, eliminating the need for extensive additional programming to get an operation from “pick” to “place.” Whereas conventional robot pose programming demands hundreds of lines of supplementary programming, ActiNav can train an entire program in six to twelve lines.


New Application Kit Optimized Vision and Sensor Systems

The autonomous of the bin picking process is achieved through a combination of the following:

  • Advanced real-time motion control: Actinav’s Autonomous Motion Module (AMM) is the driving force behind the kit’s high-accuracy picking process; it autonomously establishes how to pick the part, and proceeds to command the robot to both picks the identified part and accurately place it within a machine. 
  • Collaborative robotics: already a pioneer in the cobot industry, UR has a pre-existing vast cobot ecosystem, including recently announced deployment kits for cobot applications. ActiNav compliments UR’s UR5e and UR10e e-Series cobots by integrating AMM, ActiNav URCap user interface software, and 3D sensors to automatic machine tending solutions. 
  • Optimized vision and sensor systems: ActiNav eliminates the traditional industry requirement of vision programming dexterity by synchronously conducting vision processing through a high-resolution 3D sensor and CAD matching.

A massive benefit of integrating the autonomous application to bin picking technology is the heightened threshold of machine uptime. By decreasing instances of operator intervention, the kit enables an increase in productivity and efficiency, which is further maximized by its collision-free motion capabilities.


A cobot equipped with the ActiNav kit. Image used courtesy of UR. 


In addition, the utilization of the kit maximizes floor space around machine tending stations; AMM ensures that ActiNav is fully effective within deeper bins that contain excess parts, thus eliminating the need for features such as trays, bowl feeders, and conveyors, which are traditionally used for organized access of parts. 

Jim Lawson, VP of Product and Applications Management at Universal Robots, clarified in a statement for UR that the kit “is not pick and drop; this is accurate pick and part-oriented placement.” This process is highlighted in the kit’s ability to autonomously insert a selected part into computer numerical control machines, or processing machines including drilling, drilling, deburring, welding, trimming or tapping. 


Kit Built With Useability

Perhaps the most noteworthy characteristic of the kit is its usability; by eliminating the need for supplementary programming in machine tending applications, ActiNav widens the scope of potential users to include manufacturers with minimal bin picking proficiency.

According to IDC Research Director Remy Glaisner, this ease of use “will set a new level of operational expectations regarding the future of intelligent systems.” Installation is simple with an estimated setup time of a few hours; programming is completed through the UR teach pendant, which is pre-integrated with a six-step demonstrative setup process. This can be quickly deployed by a company’s respective automation team, and assistance is available through UR distributors. 

UR lists CNC machines, inspection stations, plastics processing, milling machines, welding stations, polishing machines, and drilling/tapping stations as suitable applications for the kit. Considering the current international need for efficient manufacturing in the era of COVID-19, optimizing output is paramount.

In addition to the kit’s capacity to heighten manufacturing productivity and quality, the automation of the bin picking process ensures that systems can run unattended for longer. With the changes to the current workforce that induced by COVID-19, the minimization of human contact in manufacturing heightens safety of workers without compromising efficiency. 

Engineers looking to utilize the kit can get it through UR’s distribution channel or the recently announced UR+ Application Kits Platform.