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For anyone familiar with industrial robotics, the sight of a worker sharing a work cell with an active robotic arm would normally be cause for alarm. Normally, the half-ton high-speed machine would execute its preprogrammed actions without regard for any soft, fleshy obstacles that might happen to get in its way. Nevertheless, a demonstration on the show floor of the 2018 NVIDIA GPU developer’s conference showed how the emergence of (relatively) low-cost, low-power AI computing modules is making it safe for humans and robots to work safely together.

The demonstration, presented by Veo Robotics, simulates a work cell with a standard industrial robot assisting a human performing an assembly task.  The robot has been retrofitted with an artificial vision system that continuously looks for the presence of humans within the robot’s path of travel. The vision system is powered by NVIDIA’s JETSON 2 embedded GPU module which analyzes a “cloud of probabilities” to determine if a person’s body, hand, or other appendage might move within harm’s way.

“Our first product lets high-performance industrial robots work collaboratively with people to enable much more flexible, productive, and efficient manufacturing workcells,” Says Patrick Sobalvarro, Veo’s President and CEO. He adds that that their system can be integrated into he existing safety system of nearly any industrial robot and costs around $40K.

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