When it comes to programming, most of us probably think about complicated lines of code with lots of abbreviations, brackets and other symbols. But programming a robot can actually be very easy, as is shown by the software that Festo developed for its pneumatic lightweight robot, the BionicCobot.
The BionicCobot is operated intuitively via a graphic user interface developed in-house. Users have a choice of different preprogrammed actions, such as ‘Grip’, ‘Save point’ or ‘Move’, without having to enter these themselves in a complex programming language. Users are also spared from making elaborate settings as a first step, like those used to set the parameters. The software automatically selects standard values for the parameters (variable values that have to be transferred to the software so that it can solve the required tasks, for example the speed at which the robot arm moves), which the operator can still change.
The robot’s functions are represented in the software with easy-to-understand symbols. This allows the operator to select the required actions on a tablet by dragging and dropping, create a kind of timeline and put them into any sequence – just like with a video editing program. Even repetitions of certain motion sequences or more complex if-then conditions can be easily created and saved. The operator can then see, either virtually in the simulation on the tablet or in the actual movement, how the BionicCobot executes these motion sequences, immediately rectify any errors in the procedure or adjust individual parameters such as the speed.
In handheld mode the BionicCobot can be freely moved and the control knobs on the robot can be used to save certain points and sequences.
You can see the software and the robot in action in the video starting at 2:25 min.