"Sensor System for Monitoring Surroundings on a Mechanical Component, and Method for Actuating and Evaluating the Sensor System" in Patent Application Approval Process
This patent application has not been assigned to a company or institution.
The following quote was obtained by the news editors from the background information supplied by the inventors: "The present invention relates to a sensor system for monitoring surroundings on a mechanical component, and further relates to a method for applying control to, and for evaluating, a sensor system according to the present invention.
"Published German patent application document DE 10 2009 029 021 A1 (which is not considered a prior art) discloses a sensor system, which is attachable to surfaces of machines or machine parts, and which has at least one sensor element made up of a layered structure of flexible electrically conductive and electrically insulating plies. The proximity and/or contact of a body or an object can be measured using such a sensor system, for example in order to stop the operation of an assembly robot having a sensor system.
"It is furthermore known per se that for automatic proximity detection and/or collision detection, monitoring of the surroundings of the machine is performed using different sensor principles and sensors, for example optical sensors, ultrasonic sensors, or capacitive sensors, for example including contact-force sensing via the piezoelectric effect. Such sensors can as a rule be used in special cases, for example, in order to monitor machine parts having simple shapes and defined movement paths, so that upon detection of the proximity of a person, for example, reliable deceleration of the drive systems or processing equipment of the machine can be initiated.
"If the hazardous machine part has a surface of relatively complex shape or a complex trajectory, on the one hand uninterrupted sensor-based surroundings monitoring is often possible only with a great deal of outlay or in some cases not at all. For example, optical sensing can be impeded by shadowing at edges and undercuts of the machine surface, or integration of sensors can also be impossible for lack of installation space.
"For safe operation of machines it is usual, in order to meet safety standards, to utilize safety devices having two mutually independent safety channels with a diagnostic function, so that a single error in the system does not result in loss of safety. Failure of a safety channel is reliably detected and reported, while the second safety channel maintains the safety function. Dual sensor-based monitoring, embodied independently, is necessary for such applications. Sensors for safe configuration of machines having two safety channels that are flexibly adaptable to complexly shaped surfaces are not known.
"Also known, from published utility model document DE 20 2005 002 475 U1, is a foamed-material cover, embodied especially to be used for collision detection with industrial robots, that is equipped with proximity-detecting, tactile, and capacitive sensors. Attachment of such an assemblage to different industrial robots is, however, often laborious."
In addition to the background information obtained for this patent application, VerticalNews journalists also obtained the inventor's summary information for this patent application: "The present invention is based on the object of embodying a sensor system, attachable in simple fashion to a wide variety of components or surfaces of machines or machine parts, that at the same time enables compliance with safety standards that require mutually independent safety channels with a diagnostic function. The underlying idea of the invention is to embody sensor elements with a layered structure of flexible electrically conductive and electrically insulating plies, electrically conductive potential surfaces of one ply being disposed, laterally spaced apart via insulating plies located therebetween, in such a way that electric field lines form between the conductive potential surfaces and change measurably upon proximity and/or contact of a body or an object, the layered structure of a sensor element having at least two measuring elements operating separately from one another. The flexible layered structure makes possible simple adaptation and attachment of the sensor element and sensor system onto moving components of machines or complexly shaped surfaces of the machines, and the provision of at least two measuring elements for each sensor element, operating separately from one another, simultaneously allows safety standards to be met.
"An embodiment of the invention in which the sensor element encompasses means for separate application of control to and evaluation of the at least two measuring elements is particularly preferred. This ensures that even in the event of impairment of or damage to a measuring element, the respectively other measuring element can continue to operate.
"In order to preclude mutual impairment of the measured values of the at least two measuring elements, provision is furthermore made that the means for separate application of control and evaluation apply control to the at least two measuring elements in chronologically consecutive fashion.
"In order to enable particularly safe operation of machines in a manner corresponding to compliance with safety standards, thus precluding endangerment in particular of persons, provision is moreover made that evaluation means for evaluating the measured signals of the at least two measuring elements are provided; and that the evaluation means are at least indirectly operatively connected to the machines or machine parts and apply control thereto in such a way that operation of the machines or machine parts occurs only if the signals of the at least two measuring elements are within predetermined limit values.
"In a design-related configuration of the sensor elements that enables adaptation of a sensor system, made up of multiple sensor elements, to a wide variety of surfaces of machines or machine components, it is proposed that the at least one sensor element have a base outline in the shape of a triangle or quadrangle; and that when multiple sensor elements are present, they be electrically and mechanically contactable to one another and preferably form a sensor skin.
"A particularly compact and simple configuration of the sensor elements is moreover made possible when the measuring elements are disposed together on at least one layer, and are physically separated from one another.
"The invention also encompasses a method for applying control to and evaluating a sensor system according to the present invention. Provision is made in this context that when multiple sensor elements are present, at least one electronic evaluation device having means be provided, which device cyclically addresses the sensor elements and checks whether a significant change in capacitance with respect to a reference value has taken place in the context of at least one sensor element; and that the means address the at least two measuring elements of a sensor element in chronologically successive fashion. Such a method operates particularly reliably and dependably, since mutual influencing of the measured values of the two measuring elements of a sensor element is avoided.
"Particularly fast and thus reliable sensing of impending collisions is enabled if a measuring element of a first sensor element and another measuring element of another sensor element are addressed at the same point in time by the means.
"The design outlay and the outlay necessary for wiring the measuring elements can be reduced if the sequence of the sensor elements is used to address linearly concatenated sensor elements, by the fact that the data are forwarded along the chain to the means via multiple sensor elements.
"Also particularly preferred is a method in which, in a further cycle, each sensor element is subjected to a self-diagnosis, the sensor elements being acted upon by test voltages or by a characteristic signal pattern. Such a method makes it possible in particular to reliably detect damage to the sensor elements, thus enabling particularly reliable operation of a sensor system.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
"FIG. 1 is a simplified plan view of a single sensor element of a sensor system according to the present invention.
"FIG. 2 is an exploded view of the structure of a sensor element according to FIG. 1.
"FIG. 3 to FIG. 5 are plan views of sensor elements having different shapes and modified with respect to FIG. 1.
"FIG. 6 and FIG. 7 are perspective views of a sensor element according to FIG. 1 during application of control to its two measuring elements at different points in time.
"FIG. 8 is a perspective view of a portion of a sensor skin using sensor elements connected to one another.
"FIG. 9 is a block diagram to illustrate the application of control to the measuring elements of a sensor element.
"FIG. 10 is a block diagram to depict a sensor system made up of multiple sensor elements.
"FIG. 11 depicts the application of control to the different measuring elements of the sensor elements by different central units."
URL and more information on this patent application, see: Frangen, Joachim. Sensor System for Monitoring Surroundings on a Mechanical Component, and Method for Actuating and Evaluating the Sensor System. Filed
Keywords for this news article include: Patents.
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