Vision and cobotics research facility

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are revolutionizing the nature of work for both humans and robots in manufacturing and other sectors. Rather than replacing humans, these new cobots will work collaboratively with us to reduce the burden of repetitive, strain-inducing tasks, and complement us on tasks where the application of great yet precise force is required. However, there are key challenges when powerful, autonomous robots are working in close proximity with human beings. They include the safety and accuracy of their movements and the amount of programming and information required to ensure they behave as desired.

Inaugurated in fall 2019, the vision and cobotics research facility is the latest addition to the National Research Council of Canada’s (NRC) Digital Technologies Research Centre’s modern labs. Inside, our researchers are applying their expertise in 3D machine vision and developing new AI technologies so that humans and robots can work side by side safely and productively.

Our services

We offer the following research expertise and services in cobotics to collaborators in industry, academia and government:

Experimental research

  • Intelligent 3D digitization: Most 3D scanning methods rely on a single viewpoint to measure 3D shapes, or on a human to manually reposition objects. Intelligent robot-assisted digitization will enable greater automation and reproducibility and better performance on difficult objects while benefitting from the inputs of an expert operator.
  • Deep reinforcement learning for object manipulation and control: Robots learn to perform a task not simply through commands but through a full control loop based on artificial intelligence and high-accuracy 3D machine vision. This enables robotic arms and hands to see and learn complex humanoid manipulation tasks that require advanced dexterity, such as grasping, throwing, and catching objects.

Industrial applications

  • Simulation of cobotic manufacturing and inspection processes: Our simulations provide an overview of how robots and humans will work together on a specific process before it is executed.
  • Inspection, understanding of human shape, and guidance: Using augmented reality (AR) and human shape analytics, our robots can indicate where defects in parts may be present, project images indicating where humans should and should not stand on the factory floor when interacting with robots, as well as the next steps in the manufacturing process, and how to execute them.
  • Aerospace materials manufacturing automation: In collaboration with the NRC’s Aerospace manufacturing technologies centre, we are developing advanced 3D vision systems to enable modern robotized fabrication methods


  • 2 Universal Robots 10e: typically configured as one holding sensors while the second performs predetermined tasks
  • ART3D: augmented reality (AR) and multimodal 3D imaging
  • Spectral domain optical-coherence tomography system
  • High-resolution structured-light digitization system

Why work with us

With over 20 years of experience in 3D machine vision and artificial intelligence, our experts are well positioned to help industrial collaborators refine their cobotic systems for next-generation manufacturing applications. Our close ties to academia mean that we are also exploring the most cutting-edge, experimenta technologies to integrate them into future industrial products and processes. As your expert government partner for cobotics development, you can rely on us to build ethical considerations into our scientific and technical advances. Contact us today!

Contact us

Jonathan Boisvert, Team Leader
Vision and Cobotics Research Facility
Telephone: 613-993-6300


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