Work smarter, not harder

Modular design approach for high-performance robotic control systems

Industrial robot arms are one of the most common types of robotic systems in use today. They help to improve productivity in processes like material handling, pick and place, inspection, welding, and palletizing.

Helpful but limited in capability

In the beginning, robot arms were only capable of executing narrowly defined tasks with strict movement paths such as picking a single type of object from a precise location with a specific orientation. In order to make robot arms more productive and enable new use cases and business operations, their capabilities must dramatically increase.

New technologies boost productivity

Today, with powerful AI inference robot arms can detect objects in their surroundings, classify them independent from their positioning and orientation, manipulate them accordingly and avoid obstacles in their movement paths. Additionally, IIoT connectivity provides actionable insights to improve performance, return on investment (ROI) and total cost of ownership (TCO).

High-performance modules for next-generation robotic systems

These new powerful capabilities require high-performance embedded computing designs. In collaboration with Intel, congatec is showcasing a reference design for such an advanced robot arm control system. It leverages a congatec high-performance Computer-on-Module based on latest Intel Core processor technology. In the demo, the embedded computing core of the robot arm

  • executes multi-axis motion control in real-time with motion path planning to perform tasks with higher precision and speed while increasing quality and factory/warehouse safety,
  • processes multiple data streams from sensors and 3D/2D embedded vision camera,
  • runs complex AI inference based on the Intel OpenVINO™ toolkit to detect, classify and recognize the position of objects, and to manipulate them accordingly,
  • provides a human-machine interface (HMI) for interaction and visualization.

If required, the demo can also integrate an IIoT gateway to deliver business-critical insights for predictive maintenance.

Virtualization for system consolidation

Thanks to powerful Intel multicore technology and workload consolidation, it is no longer necessary to have multiple dedicated computing systems to run all these different functionalities. Instead they are all hosted on one single Computer-on-Module. This is made possible by a real-time capable hypervisor like the RTS Hypervisor from Real-Time Systems. It assigns the computing cores to different virtual machines each hosting different functions including real-time motion control, AI, and HMI.

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The benefits of the robotic demo system

The approach used for the congatec robotic demo system holds many benefits for designers, OEMs and end users:

  • it enables designers to fully exploit the hardware resources;
  • system consolidation brings cost and energy savings due to the reduced system count;
  • it helps to increase overall reliability as the MTBF of one system is higher than that of a series of systems;
  • it is easy for OEMs to add new functionalities by simply adding another virtual machine, for example to integrate an IIoT gateway for secure cloud connectivity.

All in all, by integrating powerful Intel Core technology on congatec Computer-on-Modules with hypervisor technology from Real-Time Systems, congatec has created a robotics ecosystem that enables the highly agile development of the high-performance robotic systems of the future with optimized time to market, ROI and TCO.

The core benefits of the congatec robotics ecosystem:

Accelerated time to market

by concentrating on your core competencies and leaving the embedded computing technology to congatec’s Computer-on-Module ecosystem. Computer-on-Modules pre-integrate all core PC functions in an application-ready form. Customization is done via an easy-to-design carrier board. Additional design-in, pre-qualification and software services from congatec boost performance and speed up your time to market further.

Enhanced perception & safety

by profiting from increased computing performance and I/O bandwidth to process 2D/3D camera, LIDAR, RADAR and many other data in real time. Our high-performance COM-HPC and COM Express ecosystems offer extreme performance bandwidths and interface capabilities to implement latest sensor technologies in high-end collaborative and autonomous robots. 

Optimized reliability & TCO

by leveraging rugged technology and system consolidation. With supporting real-time hypervisor technology from Real-Time Systems, various workloads that previously required several dedicated systems can now be run on one single system. This not only reduces system count and yields immediate cost savings, it also leads to a higher MTBF and overall reliability. It further helps to extend maintenance intervals and reduce downtime, resulting in an optimized TCO.