When do you need robot vision?

When do you need robot vision?

'I think we need robot vision' is a statement that can strike fear into the heart of even the most seasoned robotics specialists.


This is because of a widespread perception that robot vision systems—comprising cameras, robots and supporting software—are complex, expensive, difficult to integrate and not entirely reliable.


Thankfully, it doesn't have to be that way.


In fact, with the emergence of new technologies and falling costs, incorporating vision into your existing automation is now far more accessible; especially for cobot users.


In this blog post we'll look at the benefits of vision by comparing vision-enabled automation against 'blind' systems. We'll explore some of the different camera options available and the upsides and downsides of each. Finally, we'll dive into camera technology that can help you extract even more value from your cobot implementations.

Benefits of vision

Consider the complex set up that's required for a traditional 'blind' automation application to perform a simple pick & place task. The main challenge here is that objects have to be presented to your robots in exactly the same orientation and location every single time. This means installing costly fixtures and fittings and hardware such as bowl feeders, so that randomness is eliminated and your robots know precisely where the item to be picked is located.


Robots can perform superbly without vision, but what if you need to pick and place different objects? What if you want your automation to be capable of handling several types of objects arriving in different orientations? And what if you require rapid changeover times when switching between products?


In these scenarios, with flexibility and cost in mind, you should consider the benefits of adding robot vision—i.e., a camera and associated software—to your production lines. Vision eliminates the labor and capital costs associated with the addition of new hardware and fittings. Vision brings flexibility to your operations, enabling you to switch between different products easily. And vision dramatically reduces the time required to move between one product and another—a massive boon for busy manufacturers, especially in today's demanding, customized-production environment.


There are clear benefits to giving your cobot 'eyes,' but not all vision solutions are the same; variations in expense, flexibility, ease of use and software capabilities make a huge difference. So let's take a look at different camera types typically employed in automation scenarios.

Which D is for me?

Robot cameras come in three main flavors: 2D, 3D and 2.5D.


2D cameras are the cheapest of the bunch, but are the least versatile. Typically, 2D cameras determine length and width (X and Y axis), but are unable to determine height, which limits the number of applications they can support. On the plus side, they are reliable within these constraints.


With some clever mathematics, the performance of 2D cameras can be improved, but that tends to be an inconvenient, time-consuming and somewhat unnecessary process, especially when more capable camera options are readily available.


3D cameras provide your robot with all the visual information it could possibly need, across all three axes and incorporating object rotation. This functionality comes at a price however, since 3D cameras are the most expensive cameras and also tend to be difficult to integrate and operate.


Furthermore, 3D cameras have reliability issues that make many manufacturers reluctant to embrace the technology, despite its powerhouse capabilities.


2.5D cameras occupy a sweet spot between 2D and 3D cameras, both in terms of cost and capabilities. Capable of determining the height of objects, 2.5D cameras are ideal for scenarios in which objects differ in height and when items need to be stacked. Considerably less expensive than their 3D counterparts and considerably more capable than 2D cameras, 2.5D cameras are often an ideal fit for a wide range of applications—especially applications where 3D cameras would be expensive overkill.


That said, not all 2.5D vision systems are the same.


Some 2.5D systems are easier to set up and calibrate than others, some must be attached directly to your cobot, which restricts their capabilities, and some come with software that is, at best, clunky.

Give your cobot Eyes

Meet the newly released OnRobot Eyes—a brand new 2.5D camera and vision system that can be used on all major collaborative and light industrial robot arms. Designed with ease-of-integration and -use in mind, Eyes brings all the benefits of robot vision to your operations along with some unique capabilities and features.


In particular, Eyes can be mounted externally, which brings increased versatility to your vision setup. Competing camera systems are either integrated directly into your robot arm or have to be attached to your robot's wrist to function; Eyes can be mounted anywhere within your production cell.


External mounting eliminates the issue of cables running alongside your robot. It also allows you to optimize cycle time, because Eyes can take care of image capture and processing while your robot is working on another operation.


Further, while competing camera systems often require a time-consuming calibration process, Eyes can be calibrated using just one picture, reducing the integration barrier.


OnRobot Eyes also provides seamless integration with OnRobot's existing product range, including our RG and vacuum grippers. Find out more

Contact our experts to learn more about OnRobot Eyes.


Privacy Policy for processing and protecting personal data

This data protection policy applies to OnRobot.

The purpose of the policy is to ensure and document that OnRobot protects personal data in accordance with the rules for processing of personal data. The policy will also contribute to OnRobot providing information about its processing and use of registered personal data.

The policy will be reviewed each year.

Record of the processing of personal data

OnRobot processes personal data about:

  • Employees

  • Customers

  • Suppliers

  • Applicants

OnRobot has prepared a record of the processing of personal data. The record provides an overview of the processing for which OnRobot is responsible.

The personal data must be provided in order for OnRobot to enter into employment, customer and supplier contracts.

Purpose and lawfulness of the processing

Personal data are processed and archived in connection with:

  • HR management, including recruitment, hiring, dismissal and payment of salary

  • Master data for customers as well as orders and sales

  • Master data for suppliers as well as requisition forms and purchases

  • Contracts

Processing is legal by the authority specified in the appended record.

OnRobot does not use the personal data for purposes other than those listed. OnRobot does not collect more personal data than necessary to meet the purpose. 

Storage and erasure

OnRobot has introduced the following overall guidelines for storage and erasure of personal data:

  • Personal data are stored in physical folders.

  • Personal data are stored in IT systems and on server drives.

  • Personal data are not stored for longer than necessary to meet the purpose of the processing.

  • Personal data for employees are erased five years after employment has ended, and personal data about applicants are erased after six months.

Data security

Based on the appended risk assessment, OnRobot has implemented security measures to protect personal data:

  • Only employees with a work-related need to access the registered personal data have access to the data, either physically or via IT systems with rights management.

  • All computers are password protected and employees may not disclose their passwords to others.

  • Computers must have firewall and antivirus software installed, which must be updated regularly.

  • Personal data are erased securely in connection with phasing-out and repair of IT equipment.

  • USB flash drives, external hard disks, etc. containing personal data must be stored in a locked drawer or cabinet.

  • Physical folders are placed in a locked office or in locked cabinets.

  • Personal data in physical folders are erased by shredding.

  • All employees must be instructed in what to do with personal data and how to protect personal data.


Website and Cookie

  • The Personal Data Regulation allows you to treat personal data only legally for the purpose for which they have been collected. If you want to use data for purposes other than the original, you must always have the consent of the registrant.

  • Upon receipt of a business card from a customer you have his consent. If you write his information you need his signature on this paper to have a formal requirement for consent if you want to use his information. Then the customer allows OnRobot to use his data for purposes other than communication, upcoming promotions, product updates or further news including upcoming promotions, product updates and further news.

  • According to the Cookie Act, OnRobot must have the user’s consent to use this software on the user’s equipment. On The company’s intranet or similar closed group, the rules in the E-data protection directive do not apply.


Personal data about employees may be disclosed to public authorities such as the Danish Customs and Tax Administration and pension companies.


OnRobot only uses processors if they are able to provide the required guarantees that they will implement appropriate technical and organisational security measures to comply with personal data law. All processors must sign a processor agreement before processing commences.


OnRobot safeguards the rights of data subjects, including the right to access, withdrawal of consent, rectification and erasure and will inform the data subjects of OnRobot’s processing of personal data. Data subjects are also entitled to appeal to the Danish Data Protection Agency.

Personal data breach

In case of personal data breach, OnRobot will report the breach to the Danish Data Protection Agency as soon as possible and within 72 hours. The manager is responsible for this reporting taking place. The report will outline the breach, the groups of persons affected and the impact the breach may have on these persons and how OnRobot has remedied or intends to remedy the breach. If the breach entails a high risk for the persons about whom OnRobot processes personal data, OnRobot will also notify these persons. OnRobot s will document any personal data breach on an access-controlled drive.

Erasure of data

The customer should assess when personal data need to be erased by asking the question:

When is it no longer necessary to store the personal data?

OnRobot follows the practice of the Danish Data Protection Agency:

Applications Are erased after 6 months in connection with job interviews. Unsolicited applications are erased immediately.
Employee data Are erased 5 years after termination of employment.
CCTV surveillance Is erased after 30 days.
Telephone conversations Are erased immediately or after up to 3 months.
Accounting records Must be stored for 5 years from the end of the financial year.


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How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
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How to Grow your Business with Collaborative Applications
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