I don’t know when, we’ve been acquainted with the robots in our lives.
The robots for directions standing in the corner of the mall, the robots for serving dishes in restaurants, and the robots for sweeping the floor conscientiously at home. The robots that once represented cutting-edge technology have quietly integrated into all aspects of our lives in recent years.
Turning the hour hand back for 20 years, we still have the illusion of fear and doubt about robots, fearing that the future will be threatened and hurt by robots with self-awareness and powerful bodies. But now, robots no longer represent coldness and cruelty, but Efficient productivity and life assistants, even robots can be "net celebrities."
Robots return to reality from “net celebrities''
The "Big Yellow Dog" Spot from Boston Dynamics should be the most well-known robot at present. The four simulated machine feet and the cute body of "cute and love, no head" make it an Internet celebrity among robots. .
Spot can be connected to an external manipulator to complete some handling and other tasks. After careful arrangement, it can even dance with four flexible simulation feet, which makes Spot often active in some popular technology videos.
At the end of 2020, Boston Dynamics released a video of three robots dancing. They are the first generation robot Internet celebrity Atlas that can walk, run, and jump, and the moving robot Handle and the "Tiehanhan" Spot.
In the video, the movements of the three robots are not blunt and the dance is very realistic, which is also the technical characteristic of the Boston Dynamics Robot.
Boston Dynamics has captured the attention and curiosity of the industry and the public with its cool action demonstrations, but the lack of rich application scenarios makes Atlas and Spot seem a little lacking in practicality.
This may be one of the main reasons for Boston Dynamics to change owners one after another. In 2013, Boston Dynamics was first favored by Google and acquired, and then transferred to SoftBank 4 years later. At the end of 2020, Hyundai Group announced the acquisition of Boston from SoftBank for US$1.1 billion. Power, its destiny is a lot of ups and downs.
In March of this year, they released a crane robot called Stretch. It will not backflip, but it can actually help people solve the problem of logistics and handling. It can be said to be the most practical robot in Boston Dynamics history.
From Atlas to Stretch, the development of Boston Dynamics is also impressive. A generation of Internet celebrities is finally a reality, and robots are always born to solve problems.
The birth of robots should be to solve problems
In science fiction film and television dramas such as "Me, Robot", "Black Mirror" and "Western World", "robots replacing humans" is a theme that often appears in science fiction films, and these films and television works often have some pessimism in the discussion. Humanistic reflection.
But back to reality, it is not a bad thing to replace humans with "cold" robots in many cases. In fact, there are many high-risk occupations in our lives with harsh working environments. It is humanitarian to replace humans with robots for high-risk operations. reflect.
Friends who have experience in decoration or DIY know that paint contains a lot of volatile toxic organic substances. If safety measures are not taken, painting is a process that is very harmful to the human body.
Before taking off, each plane needs to be painted by the whole machine. For the paint workers, this process actually involves a lot of operational risks.
The main chemical components of the aircraft paint are aromatic hydrocarbons and ester compounds, and may also contain heavy metal chromium and other compounds, which means that a large amount of flammable and explosive toxic and harmful gases and dust will be generated during the painting process.
Due to the long construction period and cumbersome procedures of aircraft painting, workers working in this environment for a long time will inevitably inhale it into their bodies, causing irreversible damage to the body.
In order to reduce the occupational hazards of painting work as much as possible, it is a more reasonable choice to use robots instead of manual painting. However, there are often hundreds of parts that need to be painted on an aircraft. If traditional automatic spraying is used, then each kind of part is sprayed. The parameters need to be adjusted, and work efficiency is greatly reduced.
In response to this problem, Lenovo Research Institute proposed a solution to use industrial robots to replace workers to achieve remote operations, and it took a year for the solution to land. Lenovo named it Lenovo Morningstar Robot.
At first glance, the Morningstar robot looks like a cute little car, but in fact, the Morningstar robot has its own "hands", "feet" and "brain", and can flexibly use them to achieve high-level painting for airplanes. Precision operation.
So how does Morningstar Robot realize spray painting? Before the Morningstar robot departs, the technician will need to bring the Morningstar AR glasses and operating handle, and then the Morningstar robot will go to the designated work site.
Lenovo is equipped with SLAM and navigation and positioning technology on the Morningstar robot. Simply put, it will automatically build a map in the brain and go to the work site autonomously. It will also stop and give way when encountering a person or machine on the road, achieving safety and completeness. Automatically "work".
Coming to the spray booth, the morningstar robot will send the 3D images captured by the “eyes” to the remote technician’s Morningstar AR glasses through the 5G network. Thanks to the low latency of 5G transmission, the technician can see the spray booth Real-time images, realizing "remote office".
At this time, use the handle to issue the control command, and the morningstar robot's robotic arm will follow the technician's operation to paint the parts. Comparing the two sets of pictures together, you will find that the low-latency transmission of the 5G network allows the two to have a highly consistent synchronization. Sexual, fully consistent synchronized actions look like collaborative operations in the movie "Pacific Rim".
This is not over yet. After “learning” the painting operation, the Morningstar robot will check the spraying situation through computer vision technology, realize the autonomous spraying of the machine on the same workpiece, and realize the real remote environment through machine learning, cloud fusion and edge computing. Automated and precise operations.
It doesn't sound complicated, but in fact, the Morningstar robot involves a lot of technical problems. According to Lenovo’s introduction, to achieve precise remote control, it is inseparable from leading computer vision and AI technology, high-speed data interactive computing between robots and cloud capabilities. Among them, the integration of edge (robot) and cloud computing has played a role. The key role.
Simplification, intelligence and human-machine collaboration are the trends of industrial robots. Morningstar Robotics has also made many technological breakthroughs in terms of ease of use and intelligence.
Lenovo focuses on 3D scene reconstruction and end-to-end low latency to provide a better remote human-machine collaboration experience, supplemented by computer systems to achieve specific intelligent requirements such as meter reading, defect detection, and visual guidance.
"Only by working harder can it appear effortless." The Morningstar robot is like a "student fighter" in the class who never shows up. It seems that a simple wave of spray paint is supported by day-to-day technology research and development behind it.
Comparing the Morningstar robot, which is also a composite mobile robot, with the Spot robot dog from Boston Dynamics, you will find that Morningstar robot lacks some eye-catching bionic mechanical joints and bold design, but it has more practicality-more Flexible robotic arms, more efficient machine learning capabilities, and cloud collaboration capabilities that are more in line with remote needs.
The functional difference between Morningstar Robot and Spot comes from the different design concepts. The latter focuses more on the development of core technologies such as robot balance, while the former focuses on combining the integrated application of robots with complete design. Driven by this, the applicability of the born robot products is also different.
It can be said that the Morningstar Robot, which focuses on the transformation of industrial intelligence, was born to solve problems.
The coming "robot age"
With the emergence of more robots like Morningstar Robots that can solve practical problems, we will usher in a new "robot era". In fact, in industrial production that most people feel unfamiliar with, robots are already an indispensable productivity. .
From the Morningstar Robotics video released by Lenovo, it can be seen that the Morningstar robots can already work together in the same laboratory. The video shows that 7 Morningstar robots can complete foreign body processing, intelligent sorting, and intelligent inspections in the same laboratory. Different tasks such as inspection, fine spraying, etc., have excellent multi-task autonomous collaborative work capabilities.
While the mobility of the Morningstar robot brings more convenience to production, it is also more technically difficult.
According to Mao Shijie, Dean of Lenovo Shanghai Research Institute, as the application scenarios of robots become more and more extensive, more and more requirements are put forward for mobility. Compared with industrial robots such as manipulators, the use environment of mobile robots is relatively complicated. , The technical difficulty will be correspondingly higher.
In order to give full play to the advantages of mobility and collaborative operation, Morningstar Robots will focus on the two fields of high-end manufacturing and power inspection, and provide overall solutions for the intelligent problems of specific industries.
Dean Mao said that the cooperation with COMAC is a very successful cooperation. Morningstar Robotics is in close cooperation with customers from the project establishment, design, productization, etc., to ensure that the direction of Morningstar Robotics R&D investment is urgently needed by customers. The direction is aimed at the specific scenarios and pain points of the customer, and solves the actual problems of the customer.
When mentioning the difference between Lenovo Morningstar robots and ordinary industrial robots, Dean Mao further explained that Lenovo does not only focus on the robot body, but the overall solution of the robot. Lenovo is in the "end-side-cloud-network-intelligence" Under the framework of the company, a complete system is designed, and it focuses on integration with the customer’s existing production system.
Under such an architecture system, Morningstar robots can achieve continuous iterative evolution, deriving more application possibilities, such as fine assembly in a small space, operations in dangerous areas such as high temperature or radioactive radiation, and so on.
Morningstar Robot is Lenovo’s new practice of intelligent transformation towards Industry 4.0 after integrating information technology, communication technology, and production technology. With the advent of the industrial Internet era, the transformation to smart manufacturing will also become a new trend in large factories, focusing on intelligence Hybrid robots with integrated and human-computer interaction will play a more important role in the manufacturing industry.
When introducing the Lenovo factory, Director Mao mentioned that Lenovo uses a large number of robots in production, inspection, logistics and other links. In the future, it will continue to promote the level of automation and intelligence, and build the Lenovo factory into a lighthouse factory, which will eventually lead And empower the intelligent development of the industry.
In other words, in the context of the era of Industry 4.0, many products such as mobile phones and computers in our lives have been inextricably linked to robots during production. Before imagining when the "robot age" will come, in fact, We have long been inseparable from robots.
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