What is bin picking and why is it so complicated?

Bin picking is the name of the technique that is being used by a robot to grab objects that are randomly placed inside a box or on a pallet. Bin picking allows a robot to grab objects rapidly without the need for extensive programming-time. It is a big improvement in efficiency and probably the biggest challenge we currently face in the field of robot technology.

What is bin picking?

For humans, bin picking is daily practice. We are able to move objects, sort them and stack them without even thinking about it. For example, we are able to pick a peach out of a box with apples and cleaning a desk is a simple task for us. We automatically apply the right force, using just our brains.

However, all the above situations are very difficult for a robot to process. Normally it would take an extreme amount of programming time to set up a robot to do such tasks. This is the reason Teqram is developing a solution for this problem. This solution is called “bin picking”.

Bin picking is about grabbing unsorted objects by a robot. In cooperation with clever vision and sensor systems, the robot is able to scan the surface for products to pick and move to the next location.

Why is bin picking so difficult

Robots are equipped with sensors. Every sensor passes their own information, but often the robot is still restricted in what it feels and sees. Originally, robot setups would be programmed for repeating tasks. Programming time would thus be spread out among many products. These robots are not ‘smart’ because engineers tell them what to do by programming.

This all changes with the bin picking technique. Tasks are hardly ever the same. Products are scattered randomly inside a box or on a pallet. A robot has to be equipped with the right sensors to differentiate products. Next, the robot has to move to the object without damaging surrounding objects. This process would need a revolution in robot control.

What are the benefits of bin picking?

A combination of inexhaustible product handling and the power of the human brain. That is the force behind bin picking. Small or big objects, single or thousands of items. The robot is able to “pick it out of the bin”.

The benefits of this are so useful we are already using it in live situations. check out our business case about deburring machines and shortly our business case about steel bin picking.

Bin picking software

Teqram offers bin-picking solutions for industrial environments and tasks, such as (de)loading of machines. We have developed 4 core technologies around this: