From September 5 to 7, the third edition of the European Machine Vision Forum took place at Villa Guastavillani, in Bologna Business School. The annual event of the European Machine Vision Association (EMVA) was born with the aim of fostering the interaction between the machine vision industry and academic research, to accelerate innovation by translating research results into practical applications.
Vision for Industry 4.0 and beyond was the theme of the 2018 edition, analyzed and developed through the presentations of over 28 projects from universities, companies and start-ups. Currently, vision systems undergo multiple transformations at once. There are many new imaging modalities than just taking monochrome or color images. Systems become smaller, cheaper, more powerful with embedded processing on the edge, making integration of multiple vision systems into industry 4.0 networks much easier. In industrial production lines there is a gradual transition from passive quality control to active control of flexible production processes.
In recent years, advances in vision systems, image processing and analysis have mostly shifted from traditional areas to mobile devices for consumers and applications. Furthermore, new fields of application are emerging with high growth potential. Datalogic, partner of EMVA Forum 2018, presented the company’s technological advances on traceability through barcodes, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) and Pattern Identification, which allow for greater safety in the food and pharmaceutical fields, but not only. In the same sector, the Fraunhofer Society, a German research organization with 69 institutes distributed throughout Germany, has presented a system of visual detection of objects on supermarket shelves, which can be used to facilitate inventory, assisted purchase or stock tracking.
The application of the new vision systems also extends to the automotive market, contributing to increasing the safety of road transport. Together with Specialvideo and other partners, Pirelli Tyre has developed a visual automatic tire control system capable of ensuring the highest level of production quality. Furthermore, as suggested by Dr. Lavizzari, who presented the event-based sensors for Prophesee, there are numerous applications in assisted or automatic guidance. Event-based sensors in fact allow the acquisition of accurate and continuous images, which improve the ability of the machines to perceive their environment and make intelligent decisions about what they see, making our everyday life more intelligent and safe.
From what emerged during the Forum, new trends are actually already moving beyond Industry 4.0. One example are flexible vision systems that allow collaboration between robots and human workers. Cobots, collaborative robots, are central to the development of production processes in the fourth industrial revolution. In the new intelligent factory, the physical separation between robotic and human operators is no longer necessary. In this scenario, however, security problems emerge, while productivity needs to be maximized, taking full advantage of the new opportunities offered by the collaboration between man and robot. Paolo Rocco, professor of the Milan Polytechnic and co-founder of Smart Robots, a spin-off of the Polytechnic, presented the experiments of his research group on cobots and the use of vision for perception and interpretation / prediction of human actions, so as to establish a secure, fluent and productive collaboration.
Thanks to the scientists, engineers, developers, programmers, companies and organizations involved, the EMVA Forum 2018 has been an important moment of contact between research and industry, one of a kind in Europe.