Robotics And Automation In SMART

Dean Phillips

President/ Founder at Longevity Industries

Learning Objectives

Robots come in many forms, from vacuum machines to drones that fly. Technology has given us advancements in size and in ability. How can you use this to gain your advantage? We will discuss how robots and automation are being used. What are their advantages and how can you leverage their new found capabilities into saving time and increasing profits.

Key Takeaways

- Robot technology changes in size and price make them available as a low cost solution to logistics and assembly

- Drones can do more than fly, they can operate in hazardous environments and do measurement that would be impossible otherwise

- Robots come in many packages for many applications

"It's pretty interesting how they [robots] do that because they have to determine a priority and map out all of the areas and where they're going."

Dean Phillips

President/ Founder at Longevity Industries


Welcome to the Quartz Network presentation of robotics and automation, including drones and autonomous vehicles. I’m your host today, Dean Phillips. I’m the President of Longevity Industries. It’s my pleasure to be here with you today.

Talk about technology, and we’ll talk about where we’re going. This is the next evolution. This is part six in our smart technology sessions. So we’re going to talk a little bit about robotics. What are robots doing today? How are they doing them? Well, the biggest thing that they’re doing is they’re working in areas that we shouldn’t be in, or now are protected from being in. That’s one of the biggest differences. They’re going into areas that we could have never done before.

Let’s talk about robots. What are they? They are typically mechanical and working with some type of whether it’s hydraulic, whether it is electronic, whether they’re using motors, or they’re using some hydraulic pump, and they’re actuating in a range of motion that’s more human like when you think about it in those terms. It has some type of an elbow and an arm. But this is the most important part, and we’ll talk about that here in just a second.

When we think about robots, Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto. I don’t want to sing that song, because first of all, you don’t want to hear me sing. But more importantly, I don’t want to be sued by sticks for their song. Think about robots and automation and what they’re doing for us today. Well, they are doing things like this. They are able to closely mimic a human beings, they’re able to jump over this is Boston robotics. Of course, they can replicate people and animals. They are doing a lot of the jobs that are possible.

Now, they’re not cheap, some of these robots, some of them are. It’s amazing how cheap you can get a robot today, and even to the point where you can rent them. You can take a robot, and you can say, “Hey, I want this to do this task. What does that kind of class me?” and they will give you an hourly rate just as if it was a person that you are subcontracted out to. It’s phenomenal.

Let’s talk about what else it’s doing. Well, with COVID-19, there’s a Kodi bot out that actually will sanitize and scan temperatures and do everything else. It’ll run through and do all these things while you’re not there or while you’re there. It’ll work in conjunction with people. It can do a lot of different things. These are the kinds of things that are really impactful, I believe, for where robots are going and what they can do.

Robots come in many forms and sizes. They can be collaborative, where they don’t have a lot of torque, they can pick up parts, and they can move things. But they’re safe enough for people to work around. Because the chances of somebody getting injured because as soon as you put your hand in the way, they stall out. Basically, it’s the easiest way to put it, they just stall out there, they have low limits of how much torque they can generate. That’s the great part about some of these collaborative robots right now, and there are tons of programs out there for them.

Maybe you want a robot that’s going to make your pizza for you. There are robots out there that could do that. Obviously, everybody seen the Roomba for years that can go around from iRobot. Even the sphere robots, you can buy these for entertainment purposes or to do many other things, but they can actually report back with vision systems and do a lot of other vision work. They’re pretty amazing. The cost has come down so dramatically—it’s unbelievable. You can get like a small version of this Star Wars one for less than $50 now, I believe, so they’re really come down a lot in cost.

Here’s an example of how robots are being used for just packaging in rope in grocery stores, so they’re packaging, shipping out groceries. These are smart robots that actually are controlled by a massive computer that determines priorities, determines paths, determines where to go. It’s pretty interesting of how they do that, because they have to determine a priority and map out all of the areas and where they’re going. But once you’re done, the artificial intelligence starts to take over and do all the work for you.

You think about robot, what you’re using it for? What do I want it to do? Do I want it to do the work? Or do I want to hold the park while I do the work, or while another robot does the work here? So if you see here, the upper right, the robots actually doing the work. It has a device that it’s holding here. Now, you think about all the things that a robot could do. It can do welding, it can do drilling, and tapping. They can do all kinds of different operations, and it all depends on the end effector. As I said before, the hand is what determines everything. Here’s one where it’s doing the work where it’s holding the part—it’s actually lifting the part. It’s not actually doing any doing the work, it’s holding the workpiece. Lastly, we have one where the robots not only doing the work welding, but it’s also holding.

End effectors are the workhorses of what we want the robot to do. In many cases, as you see here, people think of end effectors. They’re typically thinking in terms of grippers, which are the devices that just grip or hold a part or hold a device. All of these are all different types of grippers and type grippers. They have different force. They have different range of motion. They could do different things, but they’re grippers for the most part.

Not to say that there’s not other types of grippers, but these are some of the new, more interesting grippers that are out there. There are these balloon ones. If you can see up here, this one’s actually the balloon is on this glass and grips it that way. This one’s this origami size that goes over here, and I’ve seen it pick up apples. It just kind of goes over and it spreads out and can actually grip weird shapes. That’s really its attractiveness. Then, you have this technical type, which is designed with very soft ripping technology, so it does not damage the parts. There’s a lot of different options out here. Compared to 20 years ago, there is so much more. Before you got a gripper and it was it fit or it didn’t fit, now with 3d printing technology, you can print your own gripper to do what you want.

We think about robots, let’s think of just the basics of what you have. Of course, there’s the arm itself. The arm is actually adjusting where the the range of motion, though, so this will bend out and down. There’s a shoulder part, which attaches to the base. The shoulder actually adjusts and pivots this whole arm up or down. In conjunction with each one of these joints, give you a lot more range of motion so we can move and do things that just a simple machine can’t do because it could only work in certain motions and ranges. That’s the big aspect of it.

Now, they have sensors built into them, and different controllers and drives, which give it more flexibility. You can set these up for collaborative environments where it’s working around human beings where you have to limit the range of motion, and you have to limit the force and torque of the motors. Again, you have to have an end effector and an actuator. The actuator tells the end effector what to do to turn on or off or do its thing. There’s more things now that you have within robots. End effector, this is what does all of the work. You can develop custom ones that will work around 3d technology.

Drone technology is very similar to how robots work, except it may have a little bit more limited range because the motors are only working to drive up, down. But the technology is so phenomenal to control and respond to winds, respond to obstructions. Also, the robot within these can change the angle of the camera and do different things.

Now, these are a very simple act here where it’s actually doing land measurements. But think in terms of what is possible, it can carry medical supplies to remote locations that you can’t get into. Maybe there’s a wildfire and you can’t get there, you can take supplies to people. Obviously, as everybody’s seen, it can deliver Amazon packages if you need it to. It can also go into hazardous areas and view temperature. In this instance, going up to the top of these poles to do inspections. A human being had to do that before. They had to go up climb on top of these polls and do these inspections. Now, these drones can do a lot of that. They can check and they can be equipped with thermal scanners that can actually tell you what’s going on.

They can measure gases in the air inside of confined spaces. Think of confined spaces, say, something that doesn’t have an exit. You’re gonna climb into a tunnel, for all intensive purposes, a confined space. It’s limited range of motion. You have to have other people around you. It requires a pretty significant investment to go in and out of confined spaces for your safety team. So that’s a big difference there. It makes life a lot safer for us.

Drone technology has improved so much in how it responds. I’m not sure if some of you have seen how these drones respond when you cut off one of the propellers or a propeller fails, the other three will respond and adjust for that. It’s something that you can do in many different ways now. Drones can be had for almost a very small investment, if you wanted to do it yourself or you can hire companies that use drones to come in and do inspections.

Think about, you have a machine and you’re wondering if a bearing temperature is failing. I would normally have to have a guy get into a man lift go up on top of the machine. He would have to be tied off, have to be trained, and all these other things. I can have somebody come in with a drone go up on top with a temperature and check the bearing temperature. I know immediately if everything’s running properly. That is an incredibly safe solution. It’s a cheap and economical solution, and it provides so much more. That doesn’t mean that the person doesn’t still have to go up and fix the problem, but at least on initial inspections can save you a lot of trouble and a lot of money.

Next part of drone inspections. If you think about the fear of what you’re having to do with going into areas where there’s hazardous gases or limited air. Somebody would have to put out a specialized respirator to go into some of these areas. Now, we could do a lot of these with drones. It also allows us to do inspections and land measurements where we’re doing things like, “I want to map out this area, I want to know how much room in space I have, and what is my area,” I can do all of that now.

The other part that I can do is I can go ahead, and let’s say I’m running a farm, I can actually inspect using these drones. That’s really handy. Autonomous vehicles, just a big robot, except now you have to control it with all the other things around it. Self driving. Leave the driving to us. Not just yet, we’re not going to do that just yet. We’re leaving the driving to the vehicles but we’re getting closer every day.

The infrastructure is one of the biggest limitations. I’ve seen recently where they’re trying to equip bicycles with sensors, because the vehicles, despite the fact that you can tell it to look for other vehicles, things like bicycles, and pedestrians, are a little harder to pick up in these areas. That’s one of the limitations that you have of how you’re going to inspect vehicles starting to talk to each other saying, hey, I have the right away here, who’s going to slow up or speed up as you’re going faster, or slow down to allow them to get in. Those are things that you have to determine. There’s a hierarchy of how that’s done, and all of that has to take place like that. So that’s really interesting aspect of how we’re doing it. Now, there’s different levels of autonomy that you have here. Everything from where you’re driving it to where the vehicle is doing everything and making all the decisions. Right now, we’re still in this area where the vehicle still needs us to be there. That’s an important aspect of it right now.

Now, this was just a brief introduction into robots. If there’s any questions you have, please contact me. Here’s my information,, and my phone number. I’ll be looking at doing more advanced robot sessions as we go along here. But for right now, this was an introduction, so to speak, for people that are just getting in and just putting their toes in the water of what’s possible with robots. Don’t forget to comment and continue the discussion by asking any questions. Let’s learn together. Thank you again to the Quartz Network.

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