Apera AI demonstrates its AI-powered robotic software

May 17, 2023
Vue vision system can distinguish among clear and shiny objects, as well as objects with small features. Those characteristics normally bedevil systems.

By Bruce Geiselman 

Objects that are clear and shiny typically present problems for vision-guided applications. But, in February at the ATX West show, Apera AI showed how its artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robotic vision software can help robots overcome the challenge. 

Vue software uses AI and machine learning for robotic path planning, grasp intelligence and collision avoidance. The capabilities make the software ideal for industrial applications including bin picking, assembling, packaging, machine tending, sorting and palletizing, according to Apera AI. An Apera AI vision system consists of Apera AI’s Vue robotic vision software, which incorporates 2D cameras and runs on a PC.  

ATX attendees saw demonstrations  of the system on a  UR 5 collaborative robot (cobot) from Universal Robots, which recently worked with Apera AI to test and certify that Vue software integrates seamlessly with its full range of cobots, as well as a Kawasaki MC-series pharmaceutical clean-room robot. 

Vue robotic vision software now is available on the UR+ ecosystem offered by Universal Robots, one of the world's largest cobot manufacturers. 

“They have a very exciting technology that really wraps around our robots’ architecture in a very smooth way,” said Tim DeGrasse, senior channel development manager at Universal Robots. “There's an AI algorithm that's determining the right way to control and move our robot based on the feedback that it gets from two cameras overhead.” 

Universal Robots demonstrated one of the company’s cobots using two cameras and Apera AI’s Vue software to pick mixed socket sizes from a bin and place them in a tray according to size.  

“Shiny objects are a challenging vision-guided robotic application because they lack surface features that help a camera differentiate them,” said Eric Petz, head of marketing for Apera AI. 

The vision system is smart enough that when the tray is moved, the robot can adjust to the new position and place them properly, Petz said.  

The system can even work with objects with small features. 

Apera AI also partnered with Kawasaki Robotics to demonstrate how Apera AI’s Vue robotic software is compatible with the full range of Kawasaki industrial robots.  

A Kawasaki MC-series robot used an Apera AI vision system for a second challenging vision task – picking and placing clear objects. Petz said the application was not possible until Apera began using AI to conduct object identification and robotic guidance. 

“It’s an identical approach to shiny objects, where we train an AI neural network to understand the object in every possible orientation, and its appearance under different lighting conditions,” Petz said. 

The robot picked from a bin and placed plastic test tubes in a fixture. Injection molders and the makers of medical devices, pharmaceutical products and consumer packaged goods all could benefit from this type of robot and vision-system application. 

“We saw the brilliance of the technology to utilize their AI to really do bin picking of very difficult parts to distinguish,” said Melanie Winkler, channel partner manager with Kawasaki Robotics. “We see the technology as being very advanced and relatively easy to utilize for applications where bin picking is required.” 

Kawasaki sells the Apera AI software as a package with Kawasaki robots to customers and integrators, Winkler said. 

Apera AI planned to demonstrate its robotic vision software at the Automate 2023 show May 22-25 in Detroit, as well as its collaborations with ABB, Fanuc, Kawasaki, Precision Cobotics and Universal Robots. 

Vue software is robot-agnostic and works with brands including ABB, Denso, Doosan, Epson, Fanuc, Kawasaki, Kuka, Mitsubishi, Universal Robots and Yaskawa Motoman. 

Bruce Geiselman, senior staff reporter

[email protected] 


Apera AI Inc., Vancouver, British Columbia, 604-200-4544, www.apera.ai 

Kawasaki Robotics (USA) Inc., Wixom, Mich., 248-446-4100, www.kawasakirobotics.com 

Universal Robots USA Inc., Boston, 844-462-6268, www.universal-robots.com 

About the Author

Bruce Geiselman | Senior Staff Reporter

Senior Staff Reporter Bruce Geiselman covers extrusion, blow molding, additive manufacturing, automation and end markets including automotive and packaging. He also writes features, including In Other Words and Problem Solved, for Plastics Machinery & Manufacturing, Plastics Recycling and The Journal of Blow Molding. He has extensive experience in daily and magazine journalism.