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Businesses are under renewed pressure to move at faster paces in order to meet modern-day clients and satisfy their ever-increasing demands while attaining higher productivity levels, to handle this challenge, companies are exploring robotics and seeking to enable staff to use their time in the best possible way, many firms are finding countless uses for autonomous robots to serve customers in all sorts of circumstances, from automated checkouts in retail outlets to robotics use in factories, robotics manufacturers wish to provide the perfect balance between affordability, performance, and shape in their robotic hardware, manufacturers need to provide outstanding results via diverse, adjustable designs, they are going to need both tools and technologies so they can offer the right functionality, including but not limited to AI inference in the correct cost location and format, with the appropriate form or type of robotic device, such as Robotics and Internet Bots.

Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

Articulated Robots

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)




Programming Languages


To Start Get To Know Today’s Robotics Landscape


Autonomous Mobile Robots (AMRs)

AMRs use sensors and cameras to ingest information about their surroundings and onboard computing to make near-real-time decisions as they move around the world.



Articulated Robots


Articulated robots (also known as robotic arms) emulate the functions of a human arm. Typically, these can feature anywhere from two to 10 rotary joints.



Automated Guided Vehicles (AGVs)


AGVs travel along tracks or preset routes and often require operator oversight as they deliver materials and move items.



Humanoid robots perform human-centric functions (s


Much as wayfinding or other information services) and often take human-like forms.




Cobots share spaces with human workers to help them accomplish more.



The various types of robots are often combined to create hybrid solutions that are capable of more complex tasks, with the increasing abundance of robots, you need a relative increase in engineers to set them up for each company. So how complicated of a process is programming a robot?

The truth is that it’s pretty difficult! There are many factors to consider, including the robot’s capabilities, the space surrounding the robot, how the robot will move, and of course, the programming language necessary to program the robot.

Robots are essentially motion recording devices that allow you to generate a procedure. The procedure in question – varying from company to company – will likely only be relevant to a single function in which the part processes or other variables remain constant at all times. While this method could still be useful for a number of processes and companies, sometimes it can be done in a smoother fashion.

Let’s go over which problems are the most common and how, exactly, they affect development.

Programming Languages

Like with any verbal language, programming languages exist in abundance. Each language is used for a specific purpose, but it isn’t feasible for a programmer to learn a plethora of different languages.

Manufacturers and the robots they develop use different languages. What ABB uses isn’t quite what FANUC uses, and what FANUC uses isn’t what Universal Robots uses. Germán Villalobos, an AI and robotics engineer explained in a LinkedIn article that each manufacturer will “have more than [three] different brands installed in their cells and production lines, which further complicates their robot programming training.

Automation engineers and programmers would essentially have to learn each robot manufacturer’s programming language if they want to work efficiently on their assigned robot. However, learning an entire language, let alone a programming language is an arduous task that will take hours to learn and even more to master.

While new programming languages emerge every few years, the main ones still reign with JavaScript dominating. Chart via

High Costs, Low Time

Based on various reports, including the aforementioned LinkedIn article, it can take over 70 hours to properly learn just how to develop a simple application in any given programming language. Multiply that by the number of robots you have with their own individual languages and add the time it’ll take to complete an automation system, and suddenly you have weeks of training that needs to get done.

The cost of investing in training for every employee who needs to learn an additional language could be astronomical depending on the sheer number of employees. As well, you have to factor in equipment like cameras, computers, and well the robots themselves if you’re buying new technology.

Villalobos estimated that for each person trained, it could cost up to $15,000 per person. That number only gets higher with each new brand of robot a company acquires. To avoid spending all this money on training, it’s important to find alternatives such as hiring employees who are familiar with programming specific types of robots, or simply moving away from programming altogether and opting for a behavior-based robot instead.



While learning isn\’t inherently a bad thing, it can be a burden for companies trying to keep their employees up to date on new programming languages only suited to a specific robot brand.

The Complexity of Programming Robots

The myriad of programming languages and the high cost might lead you into thinking programming robots is complex. It most certainly is, but those factors are merely small factors in the complexity scale.

Robotics companies don’t even hide how complicated it can be to program a robot. In fact, DIY Robotics has a page dedicated to some recurring problems a programmer will encounter when working on robotics projects. In brief, they describe problems during the programming process that include misunderstandings of the physical limitations and capabilities of the robot. However, to ease the burden, they suggest using tools that each robot manufacturer offers to lessen the burden.

Villalobos continued in his article that robot programming is too difficult to do properly and efficiently work on robots. He argues that robot programming “has the same bases of computer science plus the difficulty of handling the different mechanics of robot arms, electronics controllers with software that differ between manufacturers; and that are also highly customizable for different processes and different industrial quality and safety standards.”

With so many variables to consider along with the rigidness that programming brings, it can be overly complicated to properly program a robot within a reasonable amount of time to perform specific tasks.

Academics and Programming Robots

The complexity of programming robots is not only known to manufacturers but academics have also noted this. In a study conducted by Eleonora Bilotta and Pietro Pantano for the University of Calabria back in 2000, they analyzed a variety of problems including the “difficulties in programming the robot control [and] the organization of the program in relation to hardware, software, behaviors, and performance design in robotics.”  Specifically, they focus on robotics in relation to teaching control to children. While this isn’t exactly manufacturing, their discoveries and criticisms of programming are pretty similar to those encountered in that field.

Across the study, Bilotta and Pantano argue that the current method of programming robots could be better and lean toward modern proceedings including bottom-up robotics and behavior-based robotics. And though 22 years have passed since the study’s publication, some of their criticisms still remain relevant.

They describe some of the pains they encountered with programming, including the lengthiness of the process as well as every external factor that could come into play when trying to execute a specific action. Instead, they prefer to try and work through behaviors.

“From the programming point of view, the behavior space of the robot is defined by the locations the robot can reach (or by the set of actions it has to exhibit in the physical space) and by the transition between those locations. Even if the robot can attain a nearly infinite number of states, it is better to design a useful behavior space in which the programmer limits him/herself to a small number of states,” they state.

They imply freeing up time thanks to behaviors better understanding the capabilities of robots while not taking up as much time to get them running. Even more than 20 years ago, behavior-based robotics was seen as the future.

Behaviors for All!

Robot programming is an intricate skill, craft, or trade – call it what you want – but it needs to evolve. In software programming, new languages emerge every decade, or even every few years, either rendering older languages obsolete or confusing older engineers by adding to the amount of knowledge they need to amass to do their job.

Open-source solutions include Swift, Rust, and Kubernetes which only gained popularity over the last few years. They’re far from being the most dominant, but their emergence isn’t negligible.

Machine builders and integrators are not programmers by trade – they’re designers. Designers need simple solutions. They need to be able to do more with fewer (or even) lines of code.

Behavior-based robotics is on the way to becoming the best way for robotics to move forward without the crutch of having to adapt to new languages every time they come out. Instead of relying on preset calculations that can handle a fixed process, behavior-based robotics adapts to its environment to perform a series of heterogeneous tasks.

They can adapt using sensors essentially telling the robot what the piece is, its dimensions, and how it can best perform the task it was set up to do. All this is done through an interface that is more user-friendly and that takes away the need to parse through hundreds of lines of code.

Setting up an autonomous robot for the first time seems like the dawn of a new era, but it can also be misleading. To the untrained ear, the word “autonomous” sounds like it can do anything based on the power of AI alone, or something along the lines of Wall-E from the Disney movie. While performing any task might be a tall order right now, an autonomous robot can perform a specific task given it’s been programmed to do so. The real question remains: do you still want to be programming robots well into the future?



An example of how behavior-based robotics could work for an open-source project on Github.

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, your flexible automation cell will be as powerful as ever. With the ability to set up behaviors to execute tasks such as paint spraying, sanding, welding, and more, you’ll find all the flexibility you want for your manufacturing needs.

Choosing The Right Equipment For A Flexible Automation Cell


Automation can provide relief to manufacturers looking to subvert the ongoing labor shortage, but it can also be confusing when it comes to the initial implementation of an autonomous robotic system. One of the first things you need to know when setting one up is if it’ll be a fixed or flexible automation system. Once you’ve established that, it’ll then be the time to figure out what kind of equipment you’d need to better serve your factory.

With so many different suppliers, machines, and setups, you want to make sure that whatever decision you make, it’s a comprehensive one – one that ticks all the boxes for your manufacturing plant and one that can secure a more productive and efficient future.

Fixed Vs. Flexible Automation

When you decide to automate, the work in which you automate will fall into one of two types of automation: fixed or flexible. For example, if your business is focused on the assembly of the same pieces over and over again at a high volume, you’d be more inclined to try a fixed automation system. However, if your factory is High-Mix, fixed automation won’t exactly work.

What is “High-Mix” Manufacturing? It is generally defined as any manufacturer or production that processes more than 100 different SKUs in batches of fewer than 1000 each year – basically, a lot more variation than mass manufacturing.



ABB Robotics unveiled their latest look into flexible automation cells at Automatica 2022. Image via ABB.

If the pieces you manufacture fit the High-Mix description, then the type of automation you’re going to need is called flexible automation. In short, fixed automation will serve a single purpose at a high rate, and flexible automation will help serve multiple pieces at a lower volume.

Preparing yourself for a fixed automation system is more straightforward than a flexible automation system even if it’s more limited. Preparing yourself for flexible automation is a little bit more complicated, but with the right research and understanding, the extra effort will be far more fruitful.

Let’s say you have a High-Mix production and you’re looking to install the perfect flexible automation cell, what exactly do you need to ensure that your cell is as comprehensive and complete as possible?

The Right Equipment for a Flexible Automation Cell

Flexible automation systems aren’t always cut-and-paste. Some serve different purposes. While some automation cells will fit the traditional need of having a robot perform certain tasks until completion, other cells will simply be a stackable storage system that will help organize the inventory to help get end products to customers faster. Considering the differences in systems, not every piece of equipment listed below will be useful to every specific flexible automation system. Depending on what type of cell you’re looking into, the following pieces may help bring a greater understanding as to what you may need or want when setting up your flexible automation cell.


The Robot



A robot arm, while not vital, can help accelerate the production process thanks to mature AI software.

Technically, robots are not always central to flexible automation. However, they can greatly help because they are more articulated and versatile tools than other pieces of equipment for flexible automation such as large rail inventory systems. Due to their restrictive nature, it’s easier to turn to an autonomous robot with powerful AI alongside it. Sometimes, this will require the robot to be programmed with the help of a capable robotics software like ROS. Other times, you may want to remove programming altogether and get behavior-powered software that will allow the robot to learn about the parts it will work on and execute each task for each individual piece properly and efficiently.

These processes don’t even have to be all the same. You can alternate between painting, sandblasting, deburring, and more if you need to. There exists a myriad of options that will help you get a robot. Companies like FANUC, Universal Robots, and Yaskawa all have a deep catalog of robots that can meet your needs.

Omnirobotic’s AutonomyOS™ is the world’s only platform for truly autonomous manufacturing. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that reduce labor shortages, increase productivity, save energy, waste and rework and allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before.

The Cameras

Cameras, sensors, and localization are not necessarily essential tools for flexible automation, however they provide one benefit that makes installing them worthwhile. By installing any of these, you will eliminate the need for programming jigging.

With a proper set of cameras and/or sensors, the robots will be able to properly perceive any piece that passes through them. Once those pieces have been reconstructed digitally, an autonomous robot can then understand how to perform an action. If you’re setting up cameras and sensors, however then that likely means you need objects to pass through them to the robot.

The Material Handling

If the pieces you need to work on need to pass through cameras, then your flexible automation cell will need a conveyer of some sort. While there are a myriad of conveyor options to choose from, you’d need to determine which, based on the space you have, properly fit your factory floor. The conveyor isn’t the most glorious or most coveted piece of equipment but it’s a necessary one to facilitate the process.

The Space

Okay, space isn’t quite a piece of equipment, but having a large area to work with is certainly helpful to the cause. Depending on the system you have, the space you would need would vary. If you only have space for a small conveyer belt, a couple of cameras, and a robot, your flexible automation system could work, but be limited in what it can execute in a day.

Sprimag, a company focusing on automated coating systems, detailed what their coating cell would look like. Based on their mockup, you can that it’s a long one. They have a large amount of space, but it allows the system to go through several different stations. The robot, more or less placed in the center, has enough room to move around without risking a collision with any of its surrounding walls.

The cell’s loop-like structure will reduce the floor space necessary for material handling. Its versatility in regards to size is the flexible automation cell’s biggest advantage here. With an easy-to-place design, it won’t restrict the other essential parts of the factory.



Sprimag\’s flexible automation cell isn\’t overwhelmingly big and it allows for a streamlined process thanks to multiple stations.

Another Flexible Automation Cell Example

Manufacturing company Liebherr detailed a rotary loading system that allows a robot to pick and place objects in a circular cell. In a detailed account of what this system entails, Liebherr states that “the individual workpieces lie in these bins in chaotic order. The core of the Liebherr bin picking system is an intelligent piece of software that compares data from 3D visualization of the bin contents with the actual CAD data of the workpieces being searched for and detects the correct parts.”

For a system like this, you would need more than just the robot, cameras, and conveyer. You would also need an intricate storage system that will work in conjunction with the aforementioned pieces of equipment. What might seem like a disorderly mess is actually a fully functioning system for the robot and for the flexible automation cell itself.

Why Is Flexible Automation So Important and Popular Right Now?

The uptick in flexible automation can be associated with several points. For one, there’s been a trend toward mass customization in manufacturing. As more manufacturers deal with High-Mix environments, their pieces aren’t always homogeneous and benefit from the flexibility that automation can provide. High-Mix manufacturers need flexibility to use automation properly for their needs.

As automation evolves and matures, the industry is expected to leave a smaller environmental footprint. With sustainability becoming a larger focal point for manufacturers, it’s important to realize just how much automation can benefit both manufacturers and the environment.

As well, with space being such a scarce commodity in manufacturing, it’s important to make the best use out of whatever space is available in any given factory. As zoning restrictions tighten up, saving space becomes the best and most efficient way to not have to change locations. With the right flexible automation cell, using the least amount of space to achieve the most amount of work is the simplest solution. Sprimag and Liebherr have managed to do it, so maximizing space is certainly within reach.



Valin Corporation showed the overall cost effectiveness of a flexible automation system versus a fixed automation system.

Different Equipment for Different Needs

Not every flexible automation system is universal, naturally. Each cell will be tailored to each company’s needs, therefore, leading to a myriad of different equipment configurations. With companies like Sprimag and Liebherr detailing what their ideal flexible automation cells will look like, their needs aren’t their peers’ needs. It’s vital to assess the type of automation and choose the right equipment to go with it.

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, your flexible automation cell will be as powerful as ever. With the ability to set up behaviors to execute tasks such as paint spraying, sanding, welding, and more, you’ll find all the flexibility you want for your manufacturing needs.

What Is An HMI And Why Should You Care?


Many new pieces of technology always seem to have long names with abbreviations to simplify their pronunciation. Sometimes, they’re easy to decipher like the widely-known AI – or artificial intelligence. Other times, they refer to technologies with specific uses and would only be known to the users who handle them daily. The Human-Machine Interface (HMI) is one of those pieces of technology.

An HMI is a user interface that acts as the communicator between a user and the machine, computer program, or system with which they are interacting. It’s a broad term, sure, and can be linked to several home appliances (something like the ill-fated Wii U that Nintendo sold in the 2010s), but we typically refer to HMIs in an industrial context for larger machinery.

A Brief History of the HMI

While the modern HMI has been around since the 1980s, its origins can be traced all the way back to 1945 when the Batch Interface allowed perforated punch cards to be inserted into the machine to calculate the number of hours employees worked. It was a primitive interface that was non-interactive but it laid the groundwork for future interfaces that would adapt to future technology.



A card with punched holes enters into the batch interface to transfer data from a census into statistics. Image via Wikipedia.

In the following decades, as technology vastly improved, graphical user interfaces began to sprout in order for machines to perform the jobs they were built to do. The Command-Line interface allowed users to take a bit more control. They could enter commands in the prompts to perform certain tasks. While they first appeared in the 1960s, their uses grew in the 80s when Windows Disk Operating System (DOS) became a staple in user interfaces.

Obviously, technology has grown up quite a bit since then. As interfaces became more user-friendly, HMIs grew with them. HMIs are a natural extension of the Graphical User Interface (GUI) and allow total control of machinery in industrial contexts. They are primarily used in several manufacturing processes.

So What Does An HMI Consist Of?

An HMI is essentially an advanced user interface to help manufacturers control their machines efficiently to execute a task. In the interface, HMIs can display data, track production times, color code messages, and, of course, start and stop the machinery at play. If it sounds like an advanced remote control, well, that’s because it is, sort of.

These days, HMIs can function like tablets in the sense that there’s software with a touch-screen allowing you to communicate with the machinery however the programming allows. They aren’t always limited to the tablet form, however, as they can also simply be applications on traditional computers.



An HMI provides you with an in-hand hub to view all the goings-on in your factory.

Who Are The Primary Users Of An HMI?


To answer in a single sentence: manufacturers. Manufacturing processes can differ from factory to factory but a common trait between them is their use of machinery. More specifically, those who will see the most use out of HMIs are engineers, systems operators, and system integrators.

These workers can use HMIs to see data in real-time, change the speeds of different machines, or simply monitor the machines remotely. HMIs can save the time of its operators by giving them a hub in hand that can allow them to monitor the machinery across the factory. By removing the tedious walking back-and-forth across the factory, operators can use their time more efficiently.



HMIs are becoming more commonplace in manufacturing workplaces. As automation grows in popularity, so have its companion screens,

What Types Of HMIs Exist?


There are three different types of HMIs that you can use.

The Push Button Panel


This one is straightforward. Instead of having an assortment of buttons across a machine for different actions, this HMI will round them up in one digital panel so that they’re easily accessible. It makes the lives of the operators easier by streamlining the number of buttons you need to push (effectively zero if you set everything up properly).

The Data Handler


As you may have guessed, this HMI will handle, well, the data. These types of HMIs will offer feedback about a machine’s performance using the data it collects after performing tasks. Be sure to have a screen large enough to see all the information the HMI will throw at you because it will come in the form of graphs, charts, and other forms of visual representation of the data it collected.

The Overseer


This type of HMI isn’t as menacing as its name would let on. The Overseer requires a Windows computer to operate. Essentially, this HMI monitors and controls entire sets of machines across a factory. As its name suggests, it oversees the entire operation rather than one set machine. Consider it the big boss of HMIs if there were a hierarchy.

Where You Can Find HMIs


HMIs can be tricky to find, but they’re not inaccessible either. You can find them on automation-focused websites like Automation Direct or WiAutomation. Since these companies are focused on automation, it’ll be easier to find a brand that will suit any given manufacturer’s needs.

Third-party resellers also exist on eBay and AlieExpress, but you should exercise caution if you’re looking for HMIs on these sites. Naturally, they won’t necessarily offer the same quality or customer experience that a dedicated company will provide.

Do You Need An HMI?


HMIs are essential controllers for manufacturers who want to perfect and streamline their production. By centralizing everything through the interface, operators can shift their resources toward more important and vital tasks, rather than wasting time turning machines off and on, verifying their output, and overseeing the entire operation by manually checking each station.  With that in mind, if you don’t already have HMIs set up in your factory, it may very well be time to get your hands on some to maximize your company’s efficiency.


With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, using an HMI is key to ensuring your automation processes function the way you expect them to. Monitor all your equipment such the autonomous robot, the 3D perception cameras, and the software itself from the tip of your fingers using an HMI. 

5 Common Welding Problems and How To Solve Them


To the untrained eye, welding can come across as a more pleasurable form of labor. The action of welding just seems that much more interesting than other processes. But just because it looks fascinating doesn’t mean it’s all glitz and glamor. It’s a physically and mentally demanding job that, if done without the proper care, could lead to many problems and hiccups along the way.

Some of the recurring issues in welding can be attributed to faulty equipment but most come from improper actions, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it errors, and sometimes just some bad luck. Fixing problems in welding can be difficult as it’s not always possible to walk back on the process and just patch over a mistake, given the transformation through which the metals go. Instead of fixing, it’s often easier to prevent these problems. In order to prevent them, we need to understand why certain problems happen and what practices will help mitigate them.



Weld spatter is about as annoying as it sounds. Spatter usually forms from droplets of molten material produced during the welding process, namely near the welding arc. These droplets often look like molten balls of metal that attach themselves to the surrounding surfaces such as the metal piece the welder might be working on, or, well the welder themselves. While they aren’t physically devastating to the piece being worked on, it does look wonky and might give the impression that the welding process was done with little to no care. While it might be annoying to remove the spatter afterward, preventing them altogether will save precious time.

The causes of spatter can vary. Sometimes the metal composition is at fault; not every type of metal is meant for welding. Some components don’t have the strength to withstand the heat that welding brings. Other times, the metal coating could be erroneous, the metal could simply be dirty, or improper welding techniques and settings could be at play. These problems aren’t necessarily rare, however, a little further research and attention to the setup could be the difference between spatter flying around ruining the metal and finishing the task with no hiccups or hurdles.

Quick ways to prevent spatter could be to reduce the current and the arc length, increase the torch-to-plate angle, and clean the gas nozzle. By taking a few precautions, you may be clear in avoiding spatter on various welding processes.



Spatter marks are easily visible and are a sign of poor quality assurance from the welders themsevles.


Porosity is another common welding defect that’s easier to prevent than it is to solve after the fact. This defect happens when there’s the absorption of nitrogen, oxygen, and/or hydrogen in the weld pool. This generally occurs inside the weld during the cooling process. There are several types of porosity such as surface, subsurface, wormholing, and cratering each with its own causes and deformities.

The most common one is surface porosity which shows deformities to even the most untrained eye. The other forms can be slightly more difficult to see as you take a gander, but their subtle imperfections can affect the welded metals negatively.

Porosity can be caused by the contamination of the metal at hand, including by paint, oil, moisture, mill scale, etc. As the heat from the welding increases, these contaminants will transform into gasses that then become trapped within the weld pool, essentially weakening the weld itself.

As is the case with spatter, removing porosity after the fact is time-consuming and arduous. Your time is better spent taking the necessary precautions to avoid porosity. Some of them include keeping the workspace clean, using fresh welding consumables, having dry and clean plate edges, and regularly checking the equipment. The last thing you need is a leaky welding torch because you didn’t check it before using it!


Of all the recurring problems in welding, cracks may just be the most annoying of them all. Cracks happen when the internal stresses of a weld exceed the strength of the filler metal and/or base metal. Unlike the other problems, which could be solved after the fact, cracks are much more of a nuisance. To fix them, the weld would need to be ground out, and then a new weld would need to be performed. Essentially, you would need to eliminate the problem and restart from scratch. If that sounds like lost time, that’s because it very much is.

While the cracks often happen because of external and internal stresses, they aren’t all the same. The physical loads may be too heavy for the welding process; residual welding stresses, the more frequent cause, can weaken the joints, leading to cracks in the metal. Cracks also occur in two extremes: very hot and very cold temperatures.

Hot cracks occur at higher temperatures when the liquid metal can’t sufficiently fill the spaces between the weld metal that’s in the midst of solidification. As the metal shrinkage begins, so does the cracking as there’s an excessive amount of stress that occurs simultaneously. Hot cracks can be attributed to a strain on the weld pool, a blockage of weld liquid, impurities in the metals, and above-average temperatures. To avoid these cracks, it’s best to keep the causes in mind and keep the strain and temperature to the lowest possible without sacrificing the quality of the weld.

Cold cracks, while on the opposite side of the temperature spectrum, are still just as annoying. Cold cracks cause sharp-edged crevices to form throughout the weld. Like its warmer brother, it can absolutely ruin the weld. It can occur after the weld has solidified and can be caused by a combination of welding stress, a brittle hard structure, the presence of hydrogen, and temperatures below 150°C. To prevent cold cracks, ensure you have a proper width to depth ratio on weld beads, select your base material properly, and validate your technique to mitigate any improper moves or processes you may not be sure of.



Cracks in sanding can be minimized using cover sheets. Statistics via Research Gate by Zhanxiang Ling.


Undercutting in welding is when grooves begin to appear on the base metal near the root of the weld. While this is sometimes the result of a weak welding process if undercuts do appear they can drastically reduce the strength of the weld and workpieces. Some of the causes for undercuts include maintaining too long an arc length and maintaining excessive current which causes edges of the joint to melt and drain into the weld. The latter will leave a drain-like impression across the weld. As well, selecting the wrong gas shield, poorly depositing the filler metal along the edges of the weld, using incorrect filler metal, and using an improper electrode angle can all cause undercuts in the weld.

Simply put, undercutting in welding isn’t uncommon. Correcting the undercuts is doable, but, like clockwork, prevention is key. To ensure proper welds and to avoid undercuts, double-check the heat input, work at a decent speed (one you can properly supervise), correct the electrode angle and size, and perfect your weaving technique as much as possible before starting your weld.


One of the more visible defects, distortion of the metal occurs when the heating and cooling is uneven. Usually caused by compressive stress that occurs on the area around the edges, the metal can begin to deform and turn into an unwanted shape. Different forms of distortion include longitudinal shrinkage, transverse shrinkage, angular distortion, bowing and dishing, buckling, and twisting. While these all may sound a bit odd, it’s important to take the proper steps to avoid distorting the shape of the metal you are working on.

Preventing distortion in metal isn’t always a one-size-fits-all solution, but it can mitigate any unwanted disasters. Avoid welding from both sides of the joint. Weld from the center all the way, also going in opposite directions. Use large electrodes and clamp firmly. As well, alternate sequences of welds and locations if you begin to notice the beginning of the distortion.



Different forms of distortion could properly imbalance the way the metal is welded. Prevention is the key to avoiding these annoying problems. Figure via TWI Global.

Much Ado About Welding


Welding is a nifty but complicated process. Errors are easy to come by but they are also easy to prevent. Considering that a good portion of welding is done by real welders, problems may sometimes arise as a lapse of judgment, which could be caused by fatigue, stress, and other human factors. Humans are imperfect and sometimes that leads to imperfect welds. Other times, it can just be bad luck. In any case, these problems are common and easy to identify, giving you the most information possible to complete your welds in the most efficient manner possible.

When human welders are no longer an option, autonomous robots can answer the call. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems to analyze and weld various pieces of metal regardless of their shape, complexities, and sizes. Contact us to learn more.


4 Problems A Sanding Robot Could Help Resolve


Manual skilled labor is always as difficult and time-consuming as it seems. When it comes to sanding, there is a recurring set of problems that can arise due to many factors. Sanding is still a human’s game despite significant advancements in autonomous technology. Like most things, being human means human errors are still part of the process. Some of the biggest problems lie in the equipment setup, miscalculations of distances, and, of course, fatigue.

Moving toward an autonomous can solve a great deal of the problems that lie in sanding processes, but, first, it’s important to understand what kind of problems are the most common.

Chatter Marks, Wavy Surfaces, and Ridges

Chatter marks describe the rippling pattern that can appear across a piece when something goes wrong in the sanding process. Wavy surfaces on a piece of wood mean that there are a consistent number of peaks and valleys across the surface. Finally, ridges are raised lines that appear along the surface of the worked piece.

Oftentimes, these problems occur when there’s an issue with the sanding machine itself or if there has been inconsistent or poor maintenance. Some of the causes include the improper installation of paper on the drum sander, the belt speeds being too fast or slow, or the conveyer belt wearing out. If most of these problems occur because of machine problems, then the burden of constantly checking the integrity of these machines falls on the employees themselves.



Disfigurations on improperly sanded wood will become immediately apparent. Moving toward an autonomous robotics system will minimize the negative outcomes.

Not Enough Sanding

Sanding is a long and arduous process. One that is immensely demanding on the worker going at it for hours on end. Sometimes, the process can involve sanding whole floors or simply an abundance of pieces that need to be sanded in a set amount of time to reach a quota. In any case, when there’s a large amount of work to be done, sometimes a worker will cut corners to reach the deadline, even if that means sacrificing quality.

Even though you might see a noticeable difference in the floors after the first round of sanding, this doesn’t necessarily mean the job is done. Ideally, you’d want to increase the grits in your sandpaper as the work progresses as each higher grit will help remove scratches from lower grit sandpaper. Typically, the grits available will go from 80-120-180 but ideally, you’d have grits available from 80-100-120-150-180. It’s possible that the latter sizes aren’t all available or convenient to come by, but adhering to the former sizes, it should be just enough to ensure that there aren’t scratches left behind if you decide to just use one set of grit-size sandpaper. If it sounds like a lot of work, it most definitely is, but a longer, proper job is infinitely better than a quicker job with mediocre results.


Of course, if problems arise when you don’t sand enough, there will surely be some if you sand too much. A sign that wood has been over-sanded is if it starts to look uneven. Over-sanding will not generally occur when you’re sanding the entire piece. Instead, it’s more likely to occur when a specific part of the piece has some sort of discoloration, scratches, or gouges. In an effort to fix these small problems, the person sanding might think they can fix it by continuously sanding that one part until it’s been overdone.

Luckily, over-sanding isn’t so big of a problem that you have to throw out the piece and restart from scratch. There are ways to fix over-sanded wood and, while it may add to the amount of working time, it at least provides a way to fix a mistake that could have been avoided.



Over sanding and misusing the sander will cause several problems on the wood. Human error is mostly at play when this happens.

Misusing The Sander

Most sanding is done by real people in real time, but they need machinery to make the sanding work. Naturally, the sander is the worker’s most prized possession during the sanding process. Using it, however, requires a great deal of patience, detail, and willingness to spend long hours perfecting the job.

A recurring problem that arises in sanding is when there’s too much pressure being applied on the sander.  This excess pressure can lead to swirls, the disfiguration of the wood, uneven edges, and the potential overheating of the sander. The last thing you need is the machine breaking halfway through the job.

Along with sanding carefully, the pace at which you sand should be calculated, avoiding the urge to go too fast or too slow. Unless you need a specific job to accomplish, most sanding companies will agree that 10,000 RPM is good enough to handle most jobs. If you have some finer sanding to do, you’ll likely need to recalculate that so it fits your needs.

These problems will once again arise with human error as it is the person themselves who set up how the machine will work. If you’ve been at it for too long and are fatigued or if you’re just not sure what the exact process is, it’s likely that you will encounter problems throughout the sanding process.

Mitigating The Sanding Problems

Most of the problems listed above have a recurring theme: human error. As much good work as people have done sanding over the years, it’s only normal that they slip up from time to time. After all, they are human. Sometimes, they’re tired and forget a step. Other times, they simply lack the guidance to perfect their work.

As the skilled labor market continues to tighten, finding experienced sanders is always a tough ask. For those who are left, their skills will retire with them. A potential solution could be to think about automation. Robotics and sanding aren’t a new concept together, but there’s an extra layer that will eventually be tacked on: autonomous sanding.

Most robots are programmable using a plethora of robotics middleware while others trade in coding for behavioral-based autonomy. This means that robots can learn the size, placement, and dimensions of the pieces at hand and learn how exactly to sand them without the constant need of human labor. Humans won’t be entirely replaced as they will then be tasked with replacing the parts when necessary and watching over the processes, but the risk of human error falters as autonomous robots will take up a brunt of the work.



An autonomous robotic sander will eventually mitigate all the human errors that arise during the sanding process.


With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems to sand various pieces of wood regardless of their sizes. Contact us to learn more

ROS: How Well Does it Address Manufacturers’ Needs?


The first time you see a robot perform a specific action, it can be quite awe-inspiring. Seeing robots like the Personal Robot 2 (PR2) clean tables and fetch drinks is certainly a sign that the future is now. Though the concept of having a robot understand what it needs to do is fascinating, how does it actually know what to do and how to do it?

There isn’t a universal answer to this. Robots have, for the longest time, been able to simplify some elements of programming thanks to robotics middleware such as Urbi, OpenRDK, and ROS. Though these platforms all offer different advantages and limitations, ROS stands out from the crowd thanks to one thing: its open-source nature. ROS’s repository is free to access, meaning that anyone who’s interested in programming robots can start with this middleware for free.

How ROS Came To Life

The Robot Operating System, more commonly known as ROS, started as a project at Stanford University by Keenan Wyrobek and Eric Berger. During the time in grad school, the duo had noticed their peers were wasting way too much time trying to program robots – Wyrobek even heard people say they had spent four years trying to make a robot work with no success – and decided to create a universal, open-source platform that would allow developers to share their knowledge.

“People who are good at one part of the robotics stack are usually crippled by another[…]” said Berger in an interview for IEEE Spectrum. “Your task planning is good, but you don’t know anything about vision; your hardware is decent, but you don’t know anything about software. So we set out to make something that didn’t suck, in all of those different dimensions. Something that was a decent place to build on top of.”



Since 2018, robot installation numbers have fluctuated namely due to the pandemic causing significant changes to the labor market. Graph via IFR.

In a separate guest editorial by Wyrobek for IEEE Spectrum, he specified that he had seen developers spend 90% of their time re-writing other people’s codes, with the other 10% allocated to innovating. Afterward, Wyrobek found donors to help fund the building of 10 robots and shipped them off to 10 different universities in order to have teams of software engineers build developer tools that would allow other developers to innovate and build on the software. Essentially, Wyrobek was tired of seeing developers attempt to reinvent the wheel each time, so he and Berger wanted to simplify everyone’s lives.

How You Can and Can’t Use ROS

On its own, ROS can’t really do much. There are vast libraries of packages included in the ROS repositories, but ROS itself only provides the canvas on which developers can program and execute their desired tasks.

Using ROS, developers can build the three main components of a robot: the actuators, sensors, and control systems. These components are then unified with ROS tools, namely topics and messages. The messages are used to plan the robot’s movement and, using a digital twin, developers can ensure that their code works without having to actually test it on a real robot.

These messages can travel throughout ROS using nodes, which is essentially an executable file within a ROS package. Each node is registered to the ROS Master, which sets up node-to-node communication. All this technical information to say that programming is an essential part of ROS. Developers and programmers have to code each action they want the robot to perform. Without ROS, this would be a daunting task, since developers always tend to reinvent the wheel. With ROS, however, this is a much simpler task thanks to its open-source nature.



ROS allows developers to simplify the job by using nodes to register requests to the robot and how exactly it will respond to them.

ROS succeeds in providing a canvas for its developers due to its large community size. While other robotics middleware, like URBI, aim to solve the same problems, there was one key difference in their success. URBI was an expensive software to license, and while developers still used it, it failed to build a community similar to ROS’. With a large community comes more tools for developers to share. Consequently, more projects could be pushed to completion in record time.

In fact, the robotics middleware has become so widespread that, as per Bloomberg’s reporting in 2019, 55% of robots shipped by 2024, over 915,000 units will “will have at least one ROS package installed, creating a large installed base of ROS-enabled robots.”

Additionally, Lian Jye Sue, Principal Analyst of ABI Research claimed that “the success of ROS is due to its wide range of interoperability and compatibility with other open-source projects.” The more ROS expands through community-based packages, the more adoption rates for ROS will climb in the future.

ROS’ free entry point allowed developers from anywhere in the world to start tinkering with different projects and upload them to ROS’ repositories whenever they feel comfortable with its status or if another developer wants to take a chance and try to improve upon it.



A look at ROS\’ user interface running on a UBUNTU system (Image via ROSIndustrial)

The Limitations of ROS

When things are free, they tend to have some serious trade-offs. For a project with the breadth and depth of ROS, it’s understandable that it has its limitations. Developers aren’t paid when they upload their packages on ROS’ repositories, nor are they compensated for keeping them updated. Updates to the ROS platform are done regularly, but they rarely, if ever, increase the range of tasks it can accomplish. As stated earlier, open-source middleware like ROS is built to help, not reinvent the wheel.

While ROS can do a lot, its limitations can severely affect a company trying to think outside the box or simply trying to narrow down the effectiveness of its product. One of the main downsides of ROS is the potential lack of updates for certain packages. If a certain company has been working on a package but the project for which the package was made is nearing its conclusion, then updates afterward will become scarce or non-existent. The packages are left to die and can become obsolete quickly. If other developers are using these packages, then their product might suffer if bugs arise with no one to patch them.


Another area in which ROS suffers is its lack of compatibility with computer operating systems – it only works on Ubuntu. (Its successor, however, works on Windows and Mac as well but ROS 2 is far from a finished product and doesn’t offer the same consistency as ROS.) Ubuntu is not a hard real-time operating system, which means ROS could become obsolete quickly depending on industrial robotics needs. As the middleware uses more power and space, there’s no guarantee of real-time control.

Finally, ROS lacks support for micro-controllers and embedded chips – it has to run on a computer. The only real alternative for this is to run ROS on Raspberry Pi (and similar type) boards.

Though the number of flaws and limitations of ROS isn’t necessarily high, they are impactful. Still, if a company has a more narrow and focused idea of what needs to be done, then they should be mindful of these caveats. A platform like ROS was never meant to please everybody, but for a company with simple goals or for a student trying to acclimate themselves to the world of robotics, ROS can provide a solution.

Who Uses ROS?

According to ROS’ website, hundreds of companies, from startups to Fortune 500 enterprises, have downloaded over 500,000 different ROS packages for use on their projects. One Canadian company, in particular, succeeded in using ROS to develop their robots. Clearpath Robotics, founded in 2009, develops several robots based on ROS and are programmable using ROS right out of the box.

One of their most popular ROS-powered robots is the Jackal, an unmanned ground vehicle that can autonomously drive itself around a multitude of different terrains. It’s an entry-level robot, but one of the most widely used ROS-powered vehicles at the moment. With over a decade of success and usability with ROS, Clearpath Robotics is even making the switch to ROS’s successor, ROS 2, which aims to fix all of ROS’ limitations.



Clearpath Robotics uses ROS and ROS2 to ensure that their deployed robots continue to develop and execute complex processes.

But it’s not just Clearpath Robotics using ROS, companies like Fetch Robotics and TurtleBot use the middleware to fill their different needs. Where the former focuses on developing robots designed for warehousing, the latter develops inexpensive, personal robot kits made more for enthusiasts and researchers, rather than whole solutions for a given industry.

The versatility of ROS can benefit a myriad of different companies in different industries, but it’s not quite the world-changing plug-and-play solution it aims to be.



No matter how a robotic system is configured, most often an HMI will be required to make it easy for operators to manage – ROS doesn\’t necessarily make that process easy, however.

Enter the World of AutonomyOS

In contrast to the open-source middleware that is ROS, there exist a plethora of proprietary platforms designed for more specific uses. Omnirobotic’s AutonomyOS™ is a middleware meant to simplify and widen how robots are being used. While they both aim to achieve similar results, AutonomyOS™ flips the script by removing the need to code – something that still drives ROS.

By removing the lengthy coding process, AutonomyOS™ allows better resource allocation. Gone are the days of spending countless hours trying to find the perfect code to make the robots execute the desired tasks. The logical question to ask after reading this is “How does it work if no one is required to program it?”

Before the robot executes its actions, it needs to know what object it will be working on first. In order to analyze the object, it must first pass through a set of 3D perception cameras that will digitally reconstruct it and make it visible with AutonomyStudio™, the integrated development environment that allows for the configuration of a system in a virtual space. Though 3D perception can be costly, Omnirobotic enables integrators to deploy 3D cameras using HDR-enhanced sensor fusion, effectively eliminating the need to adjust camera parameters.



With AutonomyOS™, setting up the behaviors of the robot is essential to executing a task. That means no more wasted time on programming movements.

Once the reconstruction is complete, that’s when AutonomyOS™ shines the most. AutonomyOS™ includes a built-in task planner that can interpret any process model and can plan the desired motion to execute the tasks at hand. Using HTN planning, scenario exploration, and behavioral patterns that the end-user can design themselves, AutonomyOS™ can convert the specifics of the object’s part positions and overall geometry into usable toolpaths.

When the toolpaths are ready, AutonomyOS™ can then generate a proper motion for the robot to execute the necessary actions. Several elements are considered when planning out the proper motion, such as managing collidable spaces, avoiding singularities and joint pressure, and streaming motion through a robot controller for real-time production workflows.

Where ROS Can\’t Compete

AutonomyOS™ can be primarily used by High-Mix manufacturers for a variety of different applications like paint spray processes, welding, and sanding. What is “High-Mix” Manufacturing? It is generally defined as any manufacturer or production that processes more than 100 different SKUs in batches fewer than 1000 each year – basically, a lot more variation than mass manufacturing.

For AutonomyOS™ to analyze and understand the task it needs to execute, it just goes through the steps listed in the previous section and, well, does what it needs to. ROS, on the other hand, would have to be programmed to understand the shapes and technicalities of each piece it needs to work on.



With a good set of behaviors, AutonomyOS™ can execute a large number of functions

Let’s say a factory needs to paint over a batch of items – say stools, desks, and drawers. Let’s also presume that there are at least 5 different models of each item. If you use ROS to get a robot to paint over them, then you’d be required to program the robot to understand the shapes and sizes of each item, as well as to go after odd forms and intricate spaces to maximize the surface area onto which the robot is painting.

AutonomyOS™, though, will execute these tasks after having analyzed the items with its 3D perception cameras. Then, using AutonomyStudio™, the end-user can set up the appropriate behaviors to ensure that programs will be properly executed – and this before the robot has even begun moving.

All Good Things Have A Cost

ROS has its fair share of uses. Without repeating what was listed above, it’s clear that, up until a certain point ROS can help develop automated systems. Who it helps is more important than how it helps however. Its limitations are succinctly explained above, but it can be especially useful for a company with limited resources and funding to get their feet wet with automation. Given its free entry point, ROS is more of a learning software than a software that can solve a plethora of manufacturing problems.

AutonomyOS™ doesn’t share the low-cost entry point but its uses far exceed that of ROS. As well, unlike ROS packages, AutonomyOS™ won’t become obsolete because a developer has stopped working on their project. AutonomyOS™ has a monthly subscription fee but with that comes a platform that continues to grow, enabling support for more machines and robotic systems far into the future.

ROS vs. AutonomyOS™: A Uneven Battle

AutonomyOS™ expands the scope of what a robotics software can do for manufacturers. That doesn’t mean ROS is bad, it just means that, as free middleware, it limits itself given that there are no developers paid to create new packages. It’s a community-driven project that, even with constant updates, can’t revolutionize the robotics industry. AutonomyOS™ is more advanced in nature, but is also for those who are ready for full robot automation in their factories.

With AutonomyOS™ and AutonomyStudio™, it’s never been easier to deploy an autonomous robotic system. Using 3D Perception with AI-based Task Planning and Motion Planning, manufacturing engineers and integrators can configure autonomous robotic systems for value-added processes that allow manufacturers to achieve more consistency and flexibility in production than ever before. Contact us to learn more!


Samm Joe
Author: Samm Joe