Up to now we have considered just a single robot working independently of other equipment, apart from some sensors to provide feedback about the environment. In reality, life is not so simple. The robot is there to perform some operations on one or more objects, so, given a non-mobile robot, these objects must be fed into the working volume of the robot and taken out once the operations have been completed. It is usually necessary to constrain the objects while the robot operates upon them; mechanical restraining devices for holding the objects are classed as fixtures. It may be that the robot is used essentially as a programmable loading and unloading mechanism, working in conjunction with another machine, for example a press. The collection of robot(s), fixtures, feeding devices and other machines which are combined to perform one or more operations on the object(s) we will call a workcell or just cell for brevity.
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