Dr. Philipp Schmid

Head Robotics and Automation, CSEM SA


Augmented Working Places, Robot Companions and Bin Picking


Today's production landscape is changing rapidly. Companies are forced to optimize their processes at all levels in order to maintain their competitiveness. CSEM focuses on the establishment of new technologies in industrial production in order to gain efficiency. Robotics and automation are a main topic. Up to now, the work areas of robots and humans have in most cases been strictly separated for safety reasons. In the future, this separation will be abolished and the work of robots and humans will merge. Close, sensor-supported monitoring of the assembly situation is an essential element to enable this fusion.

In a first step, an intelligent, camera-based tracking system was developed for a flexible manual assembly station. The system detects assembly components in the work area and tracks the movements of the fitter. It can detect whether the assembly was carried out in the correct sequence and can intervene in the event of errors. This system supports manual assembly, provides full logging capabilities and improves quality.

In a second step, this system was expanded with a cooperating robot. The manual assembly steps have now been taught to the robot by a simple, intuitive procedure. Up to now the complex shaped assembly parts are still pre-arranged and presented to the robot in a defined orientation. Direct, reliable picking of loose goods out of the box – "bin picking" – would be a valuable robot skill in this setting. Therefore, fitting the robot with advanced 3D vision sensors which can estimate the 6D part pose in real-time and dexterous handling systems are key elements to further adapt the robotic production environment to the human way of handling. Thus the way to real "cooperative" robotics is further paved, where robots can be used as companions in human working places.


Philipp Schmid is Head Robotics & Automation at CSEM Center Alpnach. He holds an engineering degree in Microtechnology (Dipl. Ing. FH) focused in Mechatronics, Automation and Robotics and an MAS in Management, Technology and Economics from ETH Zürich. Before joining the CSEM in 2006 he worked in several industrial automation companies and spent one year as research fellow at the ICT Robotics group (QCAT/CSIRO) in Australia. From his experience as Senior R&D engineer and project manager he gained a profound expertise in delivery of advanced solutions in robotics and automation to industry. Now he manages the research, development and industrialization of new technologies for automation applications.