Singapore Microcomputer Society

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Date:   Friday 15 Feb  2019






Topic :  
Basic understanding on Robotic arm 


Speaker: Lim Beng Cheng, CEO, Hiwire Data & Security Pte Ltd

Synopsis: 
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Computers have no moving parts except for some fans and spinning drives. Computers by itself thus cannot manipulate objects. We human are good at manipulating objects in this world made of atoms. Computers are good in the world of electrons.

In order, to use computers in this physical world, we look at the human form. Therefore, computers are made to move on wheels because legs are too difficult. Computers are made to see using cameras but much difficulty exists trying to understand the images. Microphone and speakers were easy to add. One of the most important component is the hand plus an arm.

The arm is one of the more complex mechanism for a robot. Moreover, a robotic arm by default, does not have sensors to feel. Normally, they use stepper motors or servo motors to control the angles of rotation and it's these rotations that are finely controlled by a computer to create the precision of movement.
Precision movements are important and that alone is good enough to be used in factories for repetitive work. That's good enough to replace some human labour. As technology advances, pressure sensors are added to give a sense of touch. Image recognition is added so the arm has visual feedback thus expanding the capabilities. Early robotic arm did not have fingers, instead a tool such as a drill, screw hammer etc was added.

Unlike human, when you employ a person, it comes with complete set of parts, 2 legs, 2 hands, 2 eyes, 2 ears, one mouth one nose etc. However, when you deploy a robot, if the robot is not expected to walk, you remove the legs. If it does not need to see, you remove its eyes, if you don't want it to listen to gossip, you remove it ears. If you don't want it to talk too much, you remove its mouth. It's cheaper for a robot but not applicable for human.

Robotic arm has advanced so much, plus cheap computers, it has become very cheap that you can buy one good arm for just $1500. In this talk, I will be using Dobot Magician for demo. We will also have a discussion of the possible applications for a robotic arm plus potential business opportunities.
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