Flexible virtual tools for programming robotic finishing operations

T. Kesavadas, Hari Subramanium

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


In this paper a Virtual Reality (VR) based interactive system for specifying robotic tasks using virtual tools is described. This environment allows an operator to reach into a live video scene and direct robots to use corresponding real tools in complex scenarios that involve integrating a variety of otherwise autonomous technologies. The attribute-rich virtual tool concept provides a human-machine interface that is robust to unanticipated developments and tunable to the specific requirements of a particular task. This interactive specification concept is applied to intermediate manufacturing processes such as robotic based grinding and polishing. Further, in this research, when the operator selects a virtual tool by "clicking" on an icon of the desired tool in a virtual toolbox, a representation of the real-world tool, laden with associated attributes is displayed. A new flavor of tool is created from the parent class when desired. According to operating constraints, new subclasses, which are offspring of the parent tool class, are derived. A specific instance of a tool can be evoked from any of the derived subclasses. Such attribute laden virtual tools enable easy control of otherwise complicated manufacturing task planning. This paper also explores the use of JAVA applet based interface for using these tools over the Internet. Successful implementation of such a Web-based system will open the door to the use of robots in many other human intensive manufacturing processes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)268-275
Number of pages8
JournalIndustrial Robot
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 1 1998
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering

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