Why is vision so important and how does it relate to automation? Answering this question can be very difficult and I will not answer it directly but prefer a heuristic way. Vision is of such importance because it allows us to import information into a computational system at a very rapid rate. For this process to be operational robots need a certain degree of intelligence. Getting information from the image is not a straight-forward task.
A vision system as used in manufacturing is a combination of hardware and software that enables the user to input a visual image of an object and then manipulate said object in some way. This process can be used for quality control, location proximity analysing and many other applications. The task of capturing an image and displaying has been achievable since the early twentieth century but extracting information from that image is a new concept. The number of mathematical calculations involved in this task is quite staggering and would overload all but the most powerful of processors. Not until low cost, visions enabled computers are available on the market, will they be able to be used in the every-day manufacturing market.
A vision system, at its most basic level consists of a video camera, a frame grabber to capture the image, software to manage the hardware, memory components for storage, a separate vision monitor to display the captured image, a camera stand to mount the camera and lastly the software to carry out the mathematical calculations.
The theory of visions and all its associated algorithms are beyond what I am going to discuss on this website but I am sure it will be covered in later articles. However I do feel it is important to discuss the basics of visions related concepts, as they will provide a foundation for what will be covered later. Even a fairly simple visions automation machine such as those used in common industrial manufacturing, require a lot of calculations to be carried out and a high-degree of computational power. There are many books available on this subject and there are also many publications on the internet.