A two-armed robot, called Mahoro, is co-developed by Japan's National Institute of Advanced Science and Technology (AIST) and Yaskawa Electric Corporation, already being used in labs to carry out dangerous lab work that previously had to be done manually by human.
"For example, to develop influenza drugs, we do infection trials every day, using virulent strains of influenza. This work is very hazardous, so it should be done by robots. We also have to do lots of tests with radioactive materials. Those should also be done by robots."
The researchers behind Mahoro claim it's precision was better than that of veteran technicians, and it also did the work in half the time.
"Mahoro's arm has seven joints. Factory automation robots only have up to six. In factories, a hand can usually be positioned freely using six joints. But with a seventh axis, elbow motion can be reproduced. That enables the robot to move like this."
How to teach a robot with this many joints to do all the work? - "By using a virtual space on a computer".
"First of all, we use a 3D scanner, to capture 3D CAD data for all the tools we want to use. When we input that to the computer, we create a virtual bench and a virtual robot. For example, if we want to take a tube to this hand position, all we need to do is click in that direction, and the robot's hand will go there. We also do collision simulations. Of course, we can freely change how various tools are arranged. So on the computer, we can simulate the best places to put them, and create movements. To do that, we don't even need to put numbers into the advanced programming technology."
Mahoro is marketed by Nikkyo Technos, and it's already being used at pharmaceutical companies and universities in Japan. The company's next goal is to improve the robot so it is safe enough to work alongside humans.
Posted in 3D Scanning
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