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Case Study

Robotic Polishing Application

Polishing aluminium and other metals to a mirror finish is extremely labor intensive. There are several steps to the process and each requires a lot of pressure with heavy buffing equipment.  Large Polishing jobs like tanker trucks or airplanes would nearly be impossible without the assistance of robotics. Our customer and RSI worked together to design an interface which enables operators to quickly polish a tanker by controlling the robots with an Xbox controller.



Compay Name: Private

Date: Private

Website: Private




Services Provided by RSI

Hardware Selection – RSI assisted with the selection of the industrial robots required for the application payload and reach. Two X axis slides allowed the robots to traverse along both sides of the tankers. Custom Tooling was needed to mount polishing equipment and force transducers.

Application Software and HMI Development – RSI designed an intuitive user interface using an Xbox controller; enabling operators to maneuver the robot tooling across the buffing surface and around obstructions. The PC based application included a semi automatic mode where the robot would “re-trace” paths to reduce polishing time.



Technical Details

End Of Arm Tooling 

  • Constant selectable normal force at contact point (~75 lbs)
  • Custom design changes available
  • Range Sensors in to aid alignment process

Linear Slide

  • 6-Axis Industrial Robot mounted ot linear track slide to achieve full reach of one side of tanker
  • Multiple possible configurations to blance cost and reach

Xbox Controller For Intuitive Manual Control

Our customer chose to use and Xbox Controller for this application as opposed to a teach pendant. This decision enabled employees to rapidly learn how to control the robot.


Left Stick

Moves the robot in the Z direction

Right Stick

Moves the robot in the Y direction

Left/Right Triggers

Controls the Pitch of Joint 5

Directional Pad

Moves the robot toolhead in the X (via slider).


User Interface

Jogging Tab

Allows operators to see manipulate all robot joints manually from the HMI if needed.

Setup Tab

Allows operators to configure the robot for the next phase of buffing application.

Solution Technologies

  • Two Industrial Robots
  • Two X axis Robot Slides
  • Custom End of Arm Tooling
  • Wireless Xbox Controller
  • sRMP EtherCAT Motion Controller
  • RapidRobot Control Software

Customer Benefits

  • Natural interface for manipulating robot results in increase throughput.
  • Improved surface quality.
  • Reduce labor costs.
  • Easy to use graphical user interface.
  • Even polish with constant force.
  • Eliminates high physical strain labor.
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