Robot Arm Technology Has a Long Reach

Out of This World Science

Robot Arm TechnologyRobotic technology is showing up in applications across the globe. In fact, its reach extend s beyond the globe and into space. Robotic arms set satellites into orbit and retrieve them for repair. They support astronauts during space walks, and they hold the cameras that allow the people back home to see amazing images. They are even cleaning up out there, capturing the space junk that is littering the galaxy. Robots may still look more natural in space than they do here on earth, but that is not likely to be true for much longer. The technology is improving almost daily, and it is filtering into fields from manufacturing to industrial clean-up to medicine.

Industry

Robotic arms and mechanisms have applications both large and small. Assembly and packaging lines use robots for repetitive tasks and pick-and-place packing. The movements may be programmed and adjusted to the specifications of the job. The results, whatever the task, are precise and consistent. Robots do jobs that are hard to get to. They can repair pipeline on the ocean floor and service remote utility lines. Robots are used to analyze the integrity of underground storage tanks and repair them when necessary. A growing sector for the use of robots is in cleaning up radioactive and other toxic waste.

Fukushima

After the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, robots were dispatched to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility. They were outfitted with sensors designed to assess the amount of radioactivity both at the site of the plant and in the surrounding areas. Eventually the robots mapped contamination in the lakes and rivers as well. Some operated with a seven-axis control system, similar to a human arm. The robots drilled, moved material, took samples, cut pipe, and decontaminated surfaces. They did the jobs that would otherwise have been highly dangerous for human workers.

Medicine

Pneumatic robotic arms provide a particular benefit to medicine. They can be built small enough for an operating theater, and are precise enough for very delicate surgery. They are not susceptible to shaking, as a human hand may sometimes be. Robots can be outfitted fit laser scalpels, and are capable of soft tissue manipulation, needle insertion, suturing, and cauterization. There have even been incidents of remote surgery, in which operations were performed by robots controlled from a station 100 miles away.

The Future of Automation

Designs exist for many more types of robots to be used in many ways. One prototype is a kind of pack mule that can carry over 400 pounds across almost any terrain. Others are smaller, simpler machines for streamlining the manufacture of everything from motherboards to widgets. Bernell Hydraulics can help you incorporate a robotic system into your business, design a custom hydraulic system, or simply provide the expertise to keep your current operation in top shape.

Posted on August 1, 2014