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Combine robot perception and artificial intelligence to create a new era

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Post Date: 2023-08-29, Analog Devices Inc.

Giving the robot the ability to perceive and move the environment makes the robot safer and more mobile. If combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, it will make the robot smarter and more practical, making the future development of robots very imaginative space. This article will explore the development of robot perception and AI technology, as well as the related solutions introduced by many manufacturers.

Sensors enable robots to perceive the world

Robot perception technology enables robots to "see" and "hear" the world, and through AI technology, robots can make corresponding actions to the perceived environment. Robot perception is crucial for robots to make decisions, plans and operations in the real environment. The relevant applications will involve sensory data and artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) techniques. Examples of such applications include obstacle detection, object detection and recognition, 3D environment representation, gesture and speech recognition, scene understanding, road detection, vehicle detection, pedestrian detection, object tracking, human detection, environmental change detection, activity recognition, semantic location classification, object modeling, etc.

Today, most robotic sensing systems use machine learning (ML) techniques, ranging from classical methods to deep learning methods. No matter which ML method is considered, the data from the sensor is a key element of the robot's perception. The data can come from a single or multiple sensors, usually mounted on a robot, but can also come from infrastructure or another robot (for example, a camera mounted on a drone flying nearby).

For safe and comprehensive navigation control of mobile robots, multiple sets of sensor technologies need to be deployed, including vision (ToF), radar wireless links, complete positioning in the form of an inertial measurement Unit (IMU), gyroscopes and all their associated applications, software and firmware.

The information provided by the robot's sensors can be used to infer information about the world, the robot, and the robot's location in the world. Sensors can provide simple information (for example, a simple collision sensor on a vacuum robot) or rich, highly complex data (for example, an RGB-D camera, which provides a color image, as well as a depth estimate for each pixel). Ideally, the sensing process can be modeled using the laws of physics (for example, how light reflects off an object's surface) or sometimes using simple geometry (for example, stereo vision relies on using simple triangulation to determine the distance to an object).


Provide complete solutions for robot development

The sensing function of the robot is mainly applied to positioning and navigation, and the sensors used are different due to different environments. For example, in indoor scenarios, the ground faced by most indoor robots is mostly regular and flat, but for outdoor robots, the terrain is often very irregular, in addition, outdoor robots must also deal with weather conditions, as well as changes in light intensity and spectrum. Therefore, the sensors needed to be used will also be different.

For robots to be able to "see" things, 3D time-of-flight (ToF) technology has to be introduced. 3D ToF is a scanner-free LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) technology that transmits high-power pulses of light in the nanosecond scale to capture depth information about the relevant scene (usually over short distances).

Analog Devices has been investing in 3D ToF technology for many years and offers industry-leading products and solutions that directly enable and enhance the capabilities of advanced ToF systems and cameras, including high-resolution CMOS imaging chips (1 megapixel), deep computing and processing, laser drivers, power management, and development tools and software/firmware. Help quickly implement ToF solutions.

ADI's 3D ToF offerings are quite complete, including the ADSD3100, a 1 MP CMOS backlight sensor that supports ToF; The ADDI9036 is a CCD TOF signal processor with programmable timing and a V driver. In addition, ADI offers the 3D ToF development Platform, a modular ToF solution built on the industry-standard 96Boards platform that measures an object's X, Y, and Z axis data. Analog Devices' prototyping 3D ToF platform can be used for software and algorithm development, and hardware design can be used to accelerate product design evaluation and implementation in industrial and automotive applications.

ADI also introduced the AD-FXTOF1-EBZ 3D ToF development kit, a depth of field measurement solution ideal for developing 3D computer vision systems. It uses a VGA CCD and supports capturing 640x480 depth-mapped scenes at 30 frames per second, which in turn provides a resolution four times higher than many other TOF systems on the market. ADI's AD-3DSMARTCAM1-PRZ is a 2D and 3D machine vision solution with AI edge processing capabilities that can be used to enable advanced machine vision applications in different industrial segments, including logistics, robotics, agriculture, and human activity monitoring.


Collaborative machines coexist and work together with people

In the past, robots in factories operated independently, and workers had to keep a safe distance from robots to avoid collisions that could cause injuries. However, through the rapid development of robot perception and AI technology, robots are becoming more and more intelligent, and intelligent machines and systems are already able to operate autonomously, including in areas that previously relied on human labor. However, even in today's highly developed robot technology, the assembly and inspection process still needs to rely on human work, so the use of collaborative robots is needed to coexist and work together with people.

Murata has a diverse product line for the field of robot design, including a wide range of sensors, such as gyroscopes, accelerometers, vibration sensors, temperature sensors, piezoelectric film sensors, can provide a variety of components to meet the needs of robot design.

The Murata vibration sensor, for example, can be used for predictive maintenance of machinery and equipment, and the wide detection band characteristic of ceramic sensors can detect small differences in the vibration of rotating equipment. Monitoring these changes in vibration data allows early detection of equipment anomalies for predictive maintenance. The vibration sensor supports a wide frequency range and z-direction sensing, has a drive circuit, supports differential output to reduce noise, supports temperature sensing, is only 5.0 x 5.0 x t3.5 mm in size, has 7 terminals in structure, adopts SMD package, integrates acceleration sensor and thermistor.

Murata's UWB (Ultra-wideband) connection module can also be used in robotic products, using UWB technology for safe and accurate distance measurement, for indoor location tracking and access control applications. There are currently two models, Type 2BP and Type 2AB.

Type 2BP uses NXP Trimension SR150 chipset, supports UWB 5 and 9 channels, has SPI interface and supports 3 antennas (3D AoA or 2D AoA support), has embedded reference clock and sleep clock, and integrates BPF (Bandpass filter) for regulatory certification. Resin mold combined with conformal shielding package, in line with RoHS standards.

The Type 2AB uses the Quorvo DW3110/3120 chipset with a host-less module integrated with Nordic IC (nRF52840), also has BLE function for waking up UWB and updating firmware, supports USB, UART, SPI, I2C interface, integrates 3-axis sensor to save battery power, It uses a CR2032 battery, has an embedded reference clock, and is packaged in a resin outer mold, which is RoHS compliant.

A complete solution for industrial autonomous mobile robots

Most of the traditional industrial robots can only work in a specific position, but with the development of robot intelligent perception and AI technology, robots begin to have the ability to move autonomously, which also makes the application field of robots from the previous industrial field to the development of commercial and household fields.

The robotics industry is a rapidly emerging industry with great advantages, but there are also many potential pitfalls that must be avoided to successfully navigate this rapidly changing and largely untapped field. There is a wide variety of electronic components that need to be used, and Rohm also offers a variety of related solutions for robotic applications.

Technologies such as LiDAR and SLAM enable master mobile robots (AMRs) and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to efficiently navigate dynamic industrial environments. Therefore, the correct selection of high-power laser diodes is crucial to the accurate performance of LiDAR/SLAM systems.


Rohm's high-power laser diode solutions for AMR and robotics meet the specifications and limitations of modern LiDAR/SLAM. These solutions include the RLD90QZW5 905 nm, 25 W invisible pulse laser diode with an emission width of 70 μm (200 μm for the equivalent LD).

In power applications, Rohm continues to innovate and release breakthrough products and solutions ahead of its competitors, from groundbreaking SiC power modules and discrete devices, to next-generation GaN and proprietary high-efficiency power technologies.

In addition, Rohm has a variety of specialty products that can be used in the field of robotics, including the KX13x accelerometer. Rohm's KX132-1211 and KX134-1211 triaxial accelerometers, a triaxial 16-bit accelerator, support up to ±16g (KX132)/±64g (KX134) and integrate a user-configurable Level 3 ADP (Advanced Data Path). It consists of a low-pass filter, a low-pass/high-pass filter, and an RMS calculation engine. Additional features include a 2x2x0.9mm LGA 12-pin package, wide temperature range (-40 ° C to +105 ° C), 0.5µA standby current and 0.53-239µA operating current.

Rohm's extensive portfolio of optical sensors includes highly sensitive, highly reliable phototransistors, infrared light-emitting diodes and transmission/reflection type light interrupters. In addition, there are ambient light sensors and proximity sensors RPR-0521RS, as well as transmission photointerrupters, reflective photosensors, infrared light-emitting diodes, phototransistors, ambient light sensor ics.

In addition to standard types of motor drivers, Rohm offers application-specific motor drivers that offer excellent reliability and efficiency across a range of voltage, current, pin configurations and package types, including protection circuits to further improve reliability and performance.


Robot technology supports the rapid development of industrial automation

Industrial automation relies on sensors, remote control and robotics, and the combination of AI and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies will be a key driver of industrial automation to continuously monitor and improve efficiency and productivity in connected factories. Industry 4.0 expects factories to mass produce more personalized and differentiated products and be able to rapidly change production processes, and online capabilities are an integral part of achieving this goal. Key application requirements include mesh networking, industrial-grade security standards, enhanced range, high-performance data processing, and communication protocols such as Bluetooth Low Energy, Thread, and Zigbee.

In Industry 4.0 applications, sensors are an important key to obtaining system information, and the more information that is known about systems and processes, the more efficiently these systems and processes will operate, and thus the more competitive they will be. Today's tiny, cost-effective wireless sensors are helping manufacturers adapt to the new era of the Industrial Internet of Things. These senser-enabled systems all help make informed, timely decisions that optimize the entire manufacturing supply chain, and sensors using Bluetooth and other mesh networking technologies can be installed anywhere due to their small size and low power requirements.

In addition, using the world's most popular Bluetooth wireless technology for accurate positioning is the current new technology. Bluetooth direction finding is based on the two key concepts of Angle of arrival (AoA) and Angle of departure (AoD), utilizing the angular phase shift that occurs when the antenna receives (AoA) or transmits (AoD) RF signals. By using the antenna array on either side of the communication link, the phase shift data can be determined and the position can be calculated accordingly. Nordic's nRF5340, nRF52833, nRF52820, nRF52811 SOCs are ideal solutions to support Bluetooth direction finding.


Solutions for the needs of autonomous mobile robots

Machine vision is the key solution to making machines see, and the solution is image sensors. With the majority of image sensor products from VGA to 45 MP, onsemi offers the right sensor for machine vision applications.

Take the AR0234CS image sensor, a 1/2.6-inch, 2Mp CMOS digital image sensor with a 1920 (H) x 1200 (V) active pixel array. With an innovative new global shutter pixel design optimized for capturing moving scenes accurately and quickly at a full resolution of 120 frames per second, the sensor produces sharp, low-noise images in both low-light and bright scenes.

AMR is a mobile robot that can move autonomously in structured or unstructured environments without constant human guidance or intervention. They are equipped with sensors and onboard computers that allow them to sense their surroundings and make decisions based on that information. AMR can perform a wide range of tasks, such as logistics, inventory management, quality control, or be involved in medical applications.

AMR can perform quality control checks autonomously, reducing the need for manual intervention. They can use sensors such as cameras, liDAR and ultrasonic sensors to detect defects or anomalies in products. On Semiconductor offers a range of imaging sensors, analog Front end (AFE) ics and power management ics that enable AMR to capture high-quality images and perform accurate measurements.

AMR can also be equipped with sensors to monitor environmental conditions such as temperature, humidity, and air quality. They can autonomously collect this data and transfer it to a central database for analysis. On Semiconductor offers a range of sensors, such as temperature, humidity and gas sensors, that enable AMR to accurately and reliably monitor environmental conditions.

AMR is also increasingly being used for a variety of tasks in the healthcare industry, such as transporting medical supplies, transporting patients, and assisting in surgeries. These robots rely on a variety of sensors, actuators and other electronic components to function properly, and On is one of the leading suppliers of such components to the AMR industry.


The intelligent perception of robots, which enables the safe movement of robots and full navigation control, requires the deployment of multiple sets of sensor technologies, combined with AI algorithms and all its associated applications, software and firmware, to make robots truly intelligent and able to work with humans.

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