Blazing Fast Staubli Robot Picks 200 Items Per Minute

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[Source: StaubliGroup via YouTube]

Even John Henry, had he been a factory picker instead of a steel driver, couldn’t keep up with this robot. The Switzerland-based TP80 Fast Picker robot by Stäubli Robotics can sort your prescription bottles, Tic-Tac boxes – anything under 1 kilogram – at a blazing speed of 200 picks per minute. Line sorters and quality inspectors beware.

The TP80 has a work area of 1.6 meters. And working this fast, precision is key unless you want a stockpile of shattered merchandise. That's why its movements don't veer more than 0.05 mm off course. The 200 picks per minute rate is reached when its handling very light loads limited to 0.1 kilograms. It slows down to a still superhuman 170 picks per minute when handling its max of 1 kilogram.

It’s built for packaging applications in the various industries such as food, pharmaceutical, cosmetics or photovoltaics. Perfect if you need to pack lunches for a small army or switch out some cells on your stock of solar panels.

While TP80 represents yet another robot soon to run humans off manufacturing and packaging sorting lines, it still has some catching up to do if it's wants to be the world's fastest. ABB's Flexpicker can handle a blurring 450 items per minute and has the strength to move items weighing up to 3 kilograms. And Adept's four armed Quattro can move 300 items per minute. One advantage of having a TP80, however, is that it can be mounted on a much lighter base than parallel robots, making it easier and less costly to install.

Here’s a few high speed handling videos. Watching the TP80 handle the photovoltaic cells, I can’t help but think it would probably be an impressive blackjack dealer too.

[Videos: StaubliGroup via YouTube]

Peter Murray

Peter Murray was born in Boston in 1973. He earned a PhD in neuroscience at the University of Maryland, Baltimore studying gene expression in the neocortex. Following his dissertation work he spent three years as a post-doctoral fellow at the same university studying brain mechanisms of pain and motor control. He completed a collection of short stories in 2010 and has been writing for Singularity Hub since March 2011.

Discussion — 11 Responses

  • vmagna February 26, 2013 on 11:53 am

    So is this basically another CNC or does it utilize vision?

  • Andrew Atkin February 26, 2013 on 3:48 pm

    Fast? I would kick that machines butt with my own two hands, any day of the week.

    • vmagna Andrew Atkin February 27, 2013 on 11:11 am

      Probably.. Except for that whole ‘endurance’ thing. I’m sure you got a comparably short burst of fast in ya 🙂

  • DigitalGalaxy February 26, 2013 on 6:26 pm

    It’s making me dizzy….

    I’m not sure what’s making me more dizzy; watching this robot move so fast, or watching the millions of factory workers get laid off by the tens of thousands as this machine replaces them…

    Pretty soon we will need something to keep uneducated people busy. They can’t go to farms, those are all mechanized. They are getting kicked out of factories by robots like this. Soon even construction will be fully roboticized by either huge 3D printers printing concrete, or aluminum extrusion.

    Ultimately even retail cashier jobs might be replaced by automatic RFID chips in merchandise tags. Where else are they supposed to go with no education?

    What are the uneducated masses supposed to DO? Are they all supposed to take out tens of thousands of dollars in student loans so they can maybe learn a profession a robot can’t do YET? Not everyone is a good fit for being a computer programmer.

    Maybe they can go to the Khan Academy…but even then, it’s harder to get senior/older citizens into a classroom period, much less a virtual one.

    We need to move to a resource based economy very quickly, so that food is simply available free of charge from fully automated hydroponics factories. The idea of society handing out money to people in exchange for services rendered is rapidly becoming obsolete; pretty soon there won’t be any more services humans can perform without a substantial education. That’s no problem for the educated, but what about the millions of uneducated? Are they supposed to starve or live off a welfare safety net because every monkey position has been eliminated?

    It’s that or put a ban on further automation.

    Maybe banning robots like this for a while isn’t such a bad idea; it might give our society time to transition into a resource-based economy, without increases in poverty. Until our system for providing food and shelter are resource-based, rather than money-based as they are now, more automation might just lead to more suffering. Our old money-based system of trading services might not be ready to die off just yet…not until our food supply is fully cost-free (or, at least, money free) through complete automation.

    • Víťa Dolejší DigitalGalaxy February 27, 2013 on 2:30 pm

      Food for free? Haha. So you want to create milions of people who have never worked? Who don’t need to work? Do you understand what would happen? Everyone, especially uneducated, who has his needs granted, will start to believe that it is his right to be fed, and will start to revolt and hate everyone as soon as the rations stop flowing. Last but not least it would eliminate fundamental motivation to do something with their lack of education. They would very probably start to make problems anyway, because soon or later every bored man finds something to fight against, even shoud it be against a hand which is feeding them. You would end up in pretty bloody conflict soon. Much faster then if you would have estabilished a darkest dystopia regime, I guess.
      Maybe you should think about putting everyone, who will not find a job, to virtual reality game-detention, but you would probably call it dystopia 🙂
      Actually, I think there is not positive solution, at best a lesser evil.

      • DigitalGalaxy Víťa Dolejší March 1, 2013 on 1:17 am

        Yes, everybody would revolt if food ever stopped flowing. But it never would unless the robots stopped. Endless food is possible when the food is produced by robots entirely, from the raw materials to the distribution. That’s the whole point, is the rations never stop flowing at all because the machines never stop.

        Imagine if I had a hydroponics bay large enough, so that by the time one plant was finished producing food, the next one would be ready. For example, if a tomato plant takes 22 days to make 1 tomato, and I have 22 tomato plants, all planted one day apart, they would each give me one tomato a day, on average. Then the same for potatoes, etc. At that point, my food never runs out because the plants are always making enough food for me. If robots run the hydroponics and pick the plants, then I never have to work to make the food. If machines get the water from the sea, I never have to buy water. If robots mine potassium and other nutrients, I never have to buy hydroponic solutions. If I get my electricity from wind and solar, I never have to pay the power company for my electricity for my robots. I never have to lift a finger to eat.
        Now if my robots get scrap metal to make more of themselves; I can just make more hydroponics, and if the plans are just avaliable to download on the internet, everyone will eventually have enough to eat with enough robo hydroponics.

        You are worried that people will get bored and angry with no work. I think people get bored and angry becuase they DO have work! What do most people do for work? Some boring job they hate, like flipping hamburgers, sitting at a cash register, or sorting stuff in a factory. They do boring things they hate 8 hours a day! Once robots do that instead, they will stop hating thier jobs and will start to use their brain for somthing besides boring stuff like cash register or factory work. They will be free to be creative, to go to Mars and explore! In Star Trek, nobody has boring jobs they hate. They all have important jobs they like, becuase they got to chose those jobs, becuase nobody needs to do all the boring jobs anymore becuase they have replicators. We don’t have replicators yet, but we have robots! People, when they are free of boring jobs, will not just get angry and revolt, they will learn more and create!

        • DigitalGalaxy DigitalGalaxy March 1, 2013 on 1:23 am

          I hope that people will choose to learn and better themselves, and not just get bored and watch tv all day. Maybe you are right, and some people will just get bored with no job. But, most people are angry at their boring job, and would rather be free of it.

          • Gorgand Grandor DigitalGalaxy March 2, 2013 on 6:29 pm

            There will have to be a basic allowance of survival provided by machine work.

            The great thing about this is that it would skip over the old political concern about human labor which is needed to support those on welfare through taxation on the gains of those in work.

            In a way, the left wing can be happy, because everyone has equality of survival, and the right can be happy because the government no longer needs to take from people’s gains in the form of taxes.

            The only people who won’t be happy are luddites and primativists of the left and right; from the left wing anarcho-primativists to the social conservatives and paleo-conservatives who want to go back to the 50’s and beyond. However, overall, the bigger divide of the future may be of backwards and forwards. The rise of machine labor if directed towards supporting human survival will hopefully push these concerns to the fringe as people reap the benefits of freedom from both necessary labor and collectivization of its products.

          • DigitalGalaxy DigitalGalaxy March 3, 2013 on 3:34 pm

            Well said, Grandor!

    • Retronoid DigitalGalaxy February 27, 2013 on 6:53 pm

      In another 20 years, we won’t need to worry about it. We’ll ALL be undereducated. The new Cray XK7 supercomputer hit almost 20 petraflops….the top speed for human thought (we operate at 10 to 20 petraflops and can’t sustain the top number). Prepare to be obsolete….the technology singularity is coming.

      • DigitalGalaxy Retronoid March 1, 2013 on 1:27 am

        But that’s the question! Once humanity is “obsolete”, what do we do? How do we live? Some of us can get on spaceships and go explore Mars. But, what do the res of us do? We can educate ourselves, better ourselves, and I think a lot o people will do that. But, some people will just get bored…what do they do???