Control Engineering January 2017-CE : DE-3

DIGITAL EDITION exclusive Robotics software for the next generation Educators, researchers, and robotics companies have collaborated to develop software that enables robots to work in new applications to help shrink the industrial manufacturing skills gap. As a result, more intelligent robotics software now is enabling greater robotics capabilities for the next generation of technology and manufacturing workers. MORE ADVICE KEY CONCEPTS Students are getting plenty of hands-on training and instruction from universities and using the latest developments to give them an edge as they graduate. Universities are using open-source robot software to help students learn and gain additional knowledge from other companies. GO ONLINE Read this story online for additional information about the latest robotics development as well as a video about ROS-I at www.controleng.com. CONSIDER THIS What other developments do you see happening in robotics regarding software development? T he days of robots as dim-witted devic-es are gone. The future is filled with smart sensors, software and end-of-arm tooling (EOAT). It’s the brain behind the brawn. The puppeteer pulling the strings. The escape from relentless monotony. Without software, however, brilliant hardware goes nowhere. Software can’t do it alone. Those robot “brains” extend human capabilities and are a reflection of our vision for what’s possible. That vision gets keener with every generation and every technological leap. Sophisticated software and intelligent robotics depend on the evolution of those doing the research, design, specification, and implementation. At the Tri-Rivers Career Center in Marion, Ohio, home of the Robotic Advanced Manufac-turing Technical Education Collaborative (RAM-TEC), students of all ages are preparing for a future populated with intelligent machines and connected systems. “It’s important that kids start understand-ing the concept of robotics,” said Ritch Ramey, RAMTEC engineering coordinator. “We’re going to see it expand probably tenfold in the use of robots over the next 15 to 20 years. They should at least know the basics of robotics.” According to the International Federation of Robotics (IFR), global robot deployment will more than double from 1 million robots in 2009 to 2.3 million by 2018. To keep those robots humming and evolving, a skilled workforce will be needed. This is a tall order that requires closing the skills gap in automation and bring-ing younger workers into the fold. RAMTEC is answering the call. Software certification for robots Learning to program robots, and the ins and outs of various software platforms, is an integral part of the curriculum at RAMTEC. Students learn to use robots, as well as robotic welding, program-mable logic controllers (PLCs), hydraulics, pneu-matics, computer-numerical controls (CNCs), computer-aided design (CAD), and 3D printing. These are the necessary building blocks for any budding engineer or robotics technician. Ramey, a credentialed instructor at RAM-TEC, said the collaborative plans to add machine vision to their robotics curriculum, as vision-guid-ed robotics has become essential to many indus-trial applications. With Industrie 4.0 coming and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) vital to the smart factory concept, he says RAMTEC’s students also will need to learn the Cisco platform as they enter an ever-connected industrial world. RAMTEC instructors have credentials to teach on several industrial robotics platforms and Ramey Figure 1: High school students prepare for indus-trial certification by learning how to use robot programming software both in the virtual world and hands-on with an industrial robot. Courtesy: Tri-Rivers Career Center (RAMTEC), Robotic Industries Association (RIA) DE3 | JANUARY 2017 CONTROL ENGINEERING www.controleng.com

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