ASTM proposes standard for robot bin-picking vision guidance

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ASTM International’s 3D imaging systems committee (E57) is developing a proposed standard that will provide guidance for robotic bin-picking systems used for sorting, assembling, and packaging items in industrial environments.

ASTM said the proposed standard (WK78941) will save time for potential users of 3D machine vision by helping them choose the right system for their applications. Kamel Saidi, ASTM committee E57 vice-chair, said the proposed standard will also speed up the adoption process for new technologies.

“Robotic bin-picking systems are becoming popular in many industrial applications,” Saidi said. “These systems are used for things such as sorting parts into bins, feeding parts into and removing them from CNC mills, order fulfillment, and product assembly.”

Saidi is also the leader of the Sensing and Perception Systems Group at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). He said that as these systems are applied to more complicated tasks, the burden on the machine vision systems, which act as the eyes for robots, becomes more and more significant.

“Suddenly, solving a bin-picking problem using simple 2D machine vision techniques becomes impossible and the use of 3D machine vision systems, which can better handle complex part geometries, becomes necessary,” said Saidi.

Users and producers of 3D machine vision systems are invited to join the committee in developing the proposed standard.

“The proposed standard will help users, including manufacturing companies and supply chain warehouses, better understand how well the systems perform,” said Armin Khatoonabadi, co-founder and chief operating officer at Apera AI. “The users will be able to invest less time when comparing different systems to pick the most suitable ones for their applications. System producers will be able to understand how their systems can be improved.”

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Setting the standard

ASTM has been busy developing multiple robotics standards in 2023. Most recently, it sent out a call for participation in the development of proposed standards for testing and recording assembly capabilities of robot systems. According to ASTM, the proposed standards (WK87213 and WK87214) will provide a reliable and repeatable means for testing the assembly capabilities of robot systems.

It also launched a legged robotics subcommittee focused on test and performance standards. The legged robotics subcommittee proposed a new test method for disturbance rejection testing.

ASTM kicked off the year working on a standard to evaluate an end effector’s grasp strength. ASTM said the WK83863 standard will better determine an end effector’s capabilities like limits of payload size and resistance to pull and push forces.

Aaron Prather, director of ASTM’s robotics and autonomous systems programs, was a guest on The Robot Report Podcast in February 2023. He discussed the current state of robotic standards at ASTM, specifically with Committee F45, and talked about some of the pitfalls that young robotics companies can trip over when attempting to sell their solutions to a large Fortune 500 company like FedEx, for which he served as senior technical advisor for many years. You can listen to that podcast episode below. The interview with Prather starts at the 19:20 mark.

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