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Dual-purpose robot joystick control

14 July 2013

A joystick unit, which transforms a standard industrial robot into an intelligent manipulating tool, has been developed by Thompson Automation Systems.

Instead of only being capable of performing pre-programmed automated tasks, a regular robot can now be manually guided through a series of routines with up to six degrees of freedom. 

In addition, an operator can employ a combination of both methods for maximum process efficiency in applications typically used in the aerospace, automotive, metalworking and nuclear decommissioning industries.

The unit features a pair of 3 axis joysticks with 12 freely configurable buttons which provide forwards, backwards and side-to-side motion with a proportional output so that the further the sticks are shifted, the faster the robot moves up to a pre-determined maximum speed.

It is supplied with a PC with a high-speed graphics card for 3D model viewing and a 17-inch flat screen monitor, divided into two halves. On one side, the operator can orbit, pan and zoom in the virtual world of the cell while on the other, he can specify co-ordinates, choose motion programs and joystick settings.

Other highlights of the unit include programmable virtual walls, which are configurable for permissible/non-permissible working and minimise the risk of accidental damage when in manual mode.

The unit also provides a direct interface with the robot controller via Ethernet and Devicenet, three levels of password protection built in as standard and a USB connection for using a keyboard/mouse to select joystick functions. 

In addition, it is suitable for use on a desk as a stand alone control panel and is designed to work with robot manufacturer KUKA’s new KRC4 controller as well as its KRC2 version without any modification to the system or robot hardware.

Thompson Automation Systems says the unit can also be specially configured to suit a customer’s specific requirements. 


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