Quality Magazine

From the Editor: Robots and Me

June 29, 2009


Having my own personal robot would be so helpful. No more mundane chores (laundry, I’m talking to you) or running errands-instead I could delegate these tasks to my personal robot assistant.

I’m probably not alone in this dream. Robots are a fascinating subject to consider, as they have appeared in books, movies, TV shows and, recently, my hometown.

They invaded the convention center just outside Chicago for the International Robots, Vision and Motion Control Show held this past June.

Humanoid robots may be the cutest, but I have a feeling that is not the main concern in your facility. Fast, repeatable and affordable, yes. Good-looking, not so much.

While the robot section of the International Robots, Vision and Motion Control Show may have been flashier-who doesn’t like watching robots shoot hoops or show off their musical skills (yes, there was trumpet playing)-the machine vision section of the show was no less vital.

While not big or showy, the tiny cameras on display were impressive in their own way. While the ever slimmer consumer digital cameras are small, they are no match for these tiny industrial marvels. If only they made consumer digital cameras that size; you could simply throw a handful of them into your bag and travel the world without worrying about carrying or losing your camera.

And if you wanted a little bonus entertainment, Guitar Hero was also on offer, as were magicians and telecentric lenses, and that was just at one booth.

Luckily for my career, I escaped from a Guitar Hero performance. Musical video games are not my forte, although video games and machine vision are more connected than it may seem. Later at the show I met a former video game programmer who is now the president of a 3-D machine vision integration company.

In between the extras, many new products debuted at the show, and I saw a new camera used to apprehend traffic violators. Drive safely…

The show brought exhibitors from near and far, from the City of Osaka, in Japan, to SRC Inc. in South Korea. The company promotes “one robot for one man” but I’m still waiting for this era to arrive. Let me know when yours comes in.

The show also drew exhibitors from the United States, including Nashua, NH-based Elmo Motion Control. I’m sorry to say puppets were not involved; however, the company does design, manufacture and sell machine motion control solutions, which may be better suited to your needs than furry red creatures.

As well as drawing companies from a range of industries, attendees hailed from different areas. One session I attended drew a patent attorney, someone from the military and media (okay, that was me). The machine vision community also was out in force, as I saw a lot of familiar faces from the Automated Imaging Association (AIA) Vision Show in Phoenix.

Vision 2009, the vision trade show in Stuttgart, Germany, also was represented at the show. The Stuttgart show draws nearly 300 exhibitors and more than 6,200 visitors; if you’d like to be one of them this November 3 to 5, visit www.messe-stuttgart.com for more information. Of the approximately 6,200 visitors, about 28% came from abroad.

Finally, I know the weather left a little to be desired, but Chicago makes no claims on having stellar weather. We do a lot of things well-wind, pizza, architecture-but weather is not one of them.

Obviously this is another great reason for a robotic assistant. No more shoveling snow.