PITTSBURGH—For the past several months, CapSen Robotics has been gearing up for Automate, the Association for Advancing Automation's robotics trade show in Detroit. The Pittsburgh-based startup develops software for robot arms and has partnered with DENSO and Calvary Robotics to showcase its CapSen PiC System, which was designed to help customers program their robots to complete bin-picking tasks.
“We do software for adding intelligence to robot arms,” Jared Glover, CapSen Robotics CEO and co-founder, told Robotics 24/7 during a recent visit to its headquarters. “We provide all the 3D vision software and the motion planning and control software to get robots to pick things out of cluttered bins, assemblies, packaging, machine tending, and also to move around larger things.”
Its customers span multiple industries including medical, pharmaceutical, automotive, general manufacturing, energy, and warehousing.
Right now, CapSen's customer base is still small. Glover said it has less than 10. The nine-year-old company has focused on staying small because the systems it makes can each individually take months to conceptualize and deploy, he explained.
But with its presence at Automate and the recent public release of Version 1.0 of its CapSen PiC system, the company said it is now planning on scaling up more quickly, Glover said.
“The idea is to give the software that we've been using to solve these hard problems to a lot more companies to let them start solving these harder problems too,” he said. “We've been very cautious to not release too early because we wanted to make sure the tools were robust and really developed and that we've taken the time to eat our own dog food.”
On its website, CapSen said CapSen PiC combines “3D vision, collision-free motion planning, and control software that gives robots spatial intelligence for pick and place applications.”
Glover said the system was designed to be easy to use.
What will it be showing at Automate?
The company will be showcasing its CapSen PiC System with DENSO at Booth 1632. Its software will be paired with a DENSO VP-6242 robot arm to “disentangle hooks,” according to the company.
Glover told Robotics 24/7 that programming the robot to identify, disentangle, and move a hook proved to be a challenge that required the company to spend a lot of time getting its vision and motion planning capabilities in sync.
“Deploying CapSen PiC allows DENSO robots to manipulate a range of pick-and-place tasks — from small, difficult-to-grasp parts to heavier objects that must be moved quickly and efficiently,” said Mark Anderson, regional sales engineering manager at DENSO, in a statement.
Calvary will be using CapSen's system at Booth 4007 as part of a pick-and-place demo involving medical supplies.
That solution also came with its share of challenges the CapSen team had to overcome, Glover explained. Tongue depressors, for example, are bundled together using rubber bands. Often, those depressors don't stay perfectly rigid while banded together. They can bend and move out of place, making it hard for the robot to identify and pick them up.
To address the problem, the robot takes advantage of a camera from RealSense to verify that it is holding the bundle the way it needs to be held, ensuring the items haven't spread out too much.
“CapSen PiC is a game-changing software for robotic bin-picking applications, enabling fast and accurate pick-and-place capabilities even in cluttered environments,” said Michael Marseglia, vice president of sales and business development at Calvary Robotics, in a statement. “We are proud to offer this innovative technology to our customers and provide them with exceptional solutions.”
At Calvary's booth, CapSen will also show videos of a few demonstrations that are too big to take to Automate, including its mobile manipulation solution, which combines a Universal Robots arm with an AMR from Mobile Industrial Robots. The company developed that solution for a Tier 1 automotive parts customer to help it move and organize totes.
For more on Automate, check out Robotics 24/7's special coverage page.
About the Author
Cesareo Contreras was associate editor at Robotics 24/7. Prior to working at Peerless Media, he was an award-winning reporter at the Metrowest Daily News and Milford Daily News in Massachusetts. Contreras is a graduate of Framingham State University and has a keen interest in the human side of emerging technologies.
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