Robotics and automation continue to be implemented across a multitude of process control applications, and will require an ever-increasing number of individuals with technical backgrounds in electrical engineering, and mechatronics. It is thus increasingly important that institutions of higher learning facilitate a means for learning skills which will position graduates for immediate contribution into these areas.
At present educational institutions who offer robotics will undoubtedly have access to industrial robots, however due to the expense of these robots, and the associated software, the number of robots in use at these institutions is small, with limited lab hours, which in turn limits student exposure to the physical equipment. With these limitations, it is imperative that robotics training institutions implement simulation programs which can augment physical access to the robotics equipment. This software can then be used for concept reinforcement, and class preparation, ensuring a more efficient use of the physical equipment, with better comprehension.
Traditionally, these types of simulation software were only available at high cost through robotics manufacturers, and were proprietary to their products. However recently, a free, and open source 3-D robotics simulation software called “RobotRun” was developed by Michigan Technical University in collaboration with Bay de Noc Community College. This software was developed for incorporation into an academic curriculum to give institutions an opportunity to offer training in situations where robots cannot be afforded, or to augment training in limited access scenarios. This paper will explore in details the developing and implementation of lab series of the “RobotRun” software into an existing robotics course. These labs including: creating objects and scenarios, jogging robot, creating too and user frame, and writing program pick and place program using different robot tools.
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