Munich Startup Robot Operates Without Electronic Sensors

Robotik-Sensorik radikal vereinfacht: Startup eröffnet Robotern neue Märkte und Anwendungen
Experts estimate the total market relevant for the RoVi sensor system to be EUR 570 million in 2019.

The "RoVi Robot Vision" startup has significantly simplified the complicated electronic sensor technology of robots. For the first time, they have succeeded in enabling robots to detect the positions, movements, and contact forces of their arms and grippers without integrated electronic sensors.

With previous solutions in industrial image processing, robots only recognize the space around them or objects they are supposed to grasp or process. With RoVi's industrial image processing, however, robots can now also perceive their own body parts - without electronic sensors. Software replaces complex hardware sensors.

Visual patterns printed on the robot are used to measure positions and movements. The RoVi software uses intelligent image analysis to calculate the robot's position in space, as well as its movements and joint positions. Forces and torques are also measured using simple, passive, i.e., non-electronic elements such as foam or springs. The contact forces of the gripper or the robot lead to characteristic deformations of these elements. The RoVi software measures these deformations using image analysis algorithms and calculates the contact forces. RoVi processes and evaluates the data and statistics, of the robots and their deployments, that were collected for Industry 4.0, on site or in the cloud.

To enable robots to interact with their environment safely and autonomously, more than 20 individual electronic sensor modules are often for example installed on robot arms. This leads to high hardware, integration, and maintenance costs, which can be significantly reduced by RoVi. In addition, many robot systems are complexly adapted specialists for certain applications and can therefore not be used in a very flexibly . The sensor concept of RoVi consisting of passive elements and industrial image processing allowsfor a new versatility and economical use of robots even for a small number of robots or short-term applications due to the extensive sensor data. Objects of different shapes and materials can be handled with a single gripper using self-adjusting fingers. The passive elements can also be produced cost-effectively and quickly with 3D printers for single use by robots, e.g,., in medicine or when handling food.

The RoVi sensor technology concept opens up completely new markets and application areas for robots in all areas of industry but also in medicine, care or in the private sector. Especially where flexible handling of objects is required, e.g., in logistics, assembly, order picking, agriculture or the food industry. RoVi also makes intelligent and highly sensitive robots available to small and medium-sized businesses and end users.