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Inspection CoBots

TWI has developed automated inspection systems that are capable of being used for R&D or production inspection tasks. These include collaborative robots, known as ‘CoBots.’ These CoBots are able to work alongside humans without the need for a dedicated safety cell

Using non-destructive testing (NDT) sensors and custom software, the CoBots offer a seamless and intuitive experience that can be adapted to meet the needs of the end user to encode NDT data. These robots are particularly suited to scanning smaller components via ultrasound or eddy currents.

The CoBots work by locating the part to be inspected before carrying out surface preparation and then the NDT work itself. Images created during the inspection can be viewed and analysed remotely as the robot’s movement is synchronised with data acquisition. The robots can be programmed manually or offline, with an operator loading a CAD file matching the geometry of the part so the areas for inspection can be highlighted and a scan path created.

Simulation of the robot’s motion in a 3D environment prevents collision between the robot and the part as well as determining the robot’s reach limits ahead of deployment.

The primary advantage of CoBots over conventional 6-axis robots is the lack of requirement for a dedicated safety cell. These robots can safely work alongside humans to carry out autonomous tasks using force feedback to prevent collision with other robots, objects or operators. They can also work with humans to position and orientate tools to maintain safe areas. An example of this might be to maintain correct orientation of an eddy current probe whilst scanning a surface with complex geometry.