The digitization of the manufacturing industry is one of the central themes for the Netherlands. This transformation is necessary in order to increase productivity, address the growing scarcity of qualified personnel, and promote future economic growth, making industry more sustainable. Smarter production processes make it possible to use raw materials more efficiently. The transformation to a digital industry requires new production, metrology and communication technologies within which photonics plays a major role.
Optical 3D-sensors are used to measure dimensions, position and orientation of objects during manufacturing and automated assembly processes, as the “eyes” of the robots. Some of the building blocks of this type of systems are available; however the integrated intelligent robot&sensor systems are still to be developed. We foresee that the future availability of affordable intelligent robots, equipped with several different types of sensors, will be a huge boost for application of robots in the manufacturing industry.