Robotic Realities

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Byant Parker demonstrating the universal robot that costs $35,000. Photo by April Carver

Byant Parker demonstrating the universal robot that costs $35,000. Photo by April Carver

Cookies and robots, what could be better? The engineering department hosted a seminar featuring the universal robot, a robot that can safely interact with humans to perform almost any task that it is programmed to do.

Bryant Parker, an engineer working for In-position technologies, demonstrated the robots. He formerly studied mechanical engineering six years ago, as a student of Snow College. He later went on to obtain a degree in mechanical engineering. Parker now works as a sales engineer for In-position technologies. His job is to consult with companies and help them discover how to integrate robots into their systems.

Parker explained that despite its hefty price tag, the universal robot is worthwhile investment for companies. Each robot costs $35,000, however, Parker stated that the cost of employing a person to do the same job for a year is much more expensive overtime than having a robot. He continued saying that the universal robot is cost effective, does not complain, and can be moved to different tasks.

The maximum speed is one meter per second. “When you are working with robots, make sure you have a steady base,” said Parker after watching the robot perform at its fastest speed.

Programming the robot was surprisingly simple. Its programming allows the user to program a path by physically manipulating the robot. The robot was successfully programmed to recognize a cell phone, pick it up, and consistently place it in the same spot over and over. No matter where Parker placed the cell phone, the robot could locate it and move it to the same location.

The robot also safely interacts with people. When it encountered pressure on its frame, it triggers a mechanism in the robot which causes it to stop. This feature prevents the robots from physically hitting a person.

Parker also explained that there are several general categories of robots: Cartesian, industrial robots, and autonomous robots. Each performs a specific function in the real world. A Cartesian robot is a robot that works on three separate planes, such as a 3-D printer. An industrial robot is generally used in a factory setting and does not often interact with people around. A collaborative robot is designed to work around people.

There is a great deal of programming that makes a robot function. Parker displayed the program used to run one of the cycles that he created. It required several pages of code to run. He told everyone that it was worth it to take Garth Sorenson’s class. He also stated that he used the skills he learned as a programmer at least twice a week.

Robots are here to stay. They are increasingly being utilized in a wide variety of industrial applications. What’s more, they are becoming increasingly inexpensive and easy to work with. In times past, robots took months to carefully code. Now, someone with very little knowledge of computer science can program robots to carry out routines.

As time goes on, robots will increasingly interact with humans. As Bryant Parker said, “Anywhere that is repetitive, dangerous, or dirty, that’s where you see robots.”

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