Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Assembly lines, industrial robots, and robotic arms

The most common kind of robot today, it turns out, is the robotic arm—the kind used in manufacturing. Unimate, the first robot, was made to work on an assembly line at General Motors. There are two main kinds of industrial robots: gantry robots (which move on an X, Y, Z axis, usually from an overhead frame) and SCARA robots which are fixed at the bottom and move with more degrees of freedom. You can see a comparison of the different types here, and also here and here.

We watched these two "How it's made" videos to see some robotic arms in action:
Really, almost any of the "How it's made" videos will show a robotic arm at work!

To illustrate the concept of assembly lines (each robot/machine/worker does one specific task and can therefore become maximally efficient at it), we decorated robot-face cookies with an assembly line. Each person put on one type of decoration and then moved the cookies down the line.
The children got pretty good at their jobs, if not quite as good as real robot workers :)
Next, we made Lego robots and had them make things on assembly lines. These little robot workers were so cute:
And so hard-working!
But Sebby's robotic arm (SCARA robot) was even more true-to-life.

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