KUKA robots are becoming mobile
KUKA Roboter acquires “omniMove” business unit from IC Industrial Consulting GmbH
October 25, 2006
In General Industry, i.e. business in the non-automotive sector, the primary objective of KUKA’s development work is to tap into new markets, particularly in the fields of logistics, plastics, medicine and the aerospace industry. New function packages enable KUKA robot technology to penetrate into additional fields of application. For robots can be used in practically any application: handling, stacking, inspecting, polishing or grinding. In combination with new gripper and sensor technologies, previously unimaginable robotic applications become possible.
For example, KUKA robots have been used by renowned companies in the aerospace industry for years. High-precision robots “made in Augsburg” grind, polish and sew components inside and outside aircraft fuselages. The omni-Move platforms will now enable innovative further developments and scaling of mobile industrial robots – for a wide range of applications going beyond the aerospace industry.
One example is the prototype that has already been de-veloped for a special mini-platform (“Robomove”). Existing products, such as the Triple-Lift 8000 (used by Airbus, for example), the autoclave loading sys-tem (Eurocopter) and the positioner system, are already well established in the aerospace industry.The existing list of customers and references offers KUKA Roboter excellent business and technical development potential in the future-oriented markets of the aerospace sector.
Eight non-driven rollers ensure optimal motion
The omniMove system is based on the omniMove® wheel. This consists of eight specially shaped, non-driven rollers, which are mounted between two identical stable rims. Platforms fitted with omniMove® wheels can be moved in any direction from a standing start. The wheels do not have a steering mecha-nism, as changes in direction are determined by the direction of rotation of the wheels relative to one another. The resulting maneuverability is comparable to the omnidirectional freedom of motion of a hovercraft. Vehicles can be ma-neuvered with millimeter precision. The omniMove® wheel is based on a 25-year-old proven technology. Due to the on-going conceptual and design de-velopment of this technology, the omniMove® wheel has the following advan-tages over other wheels:
- Production of the omniMove® wheel is cost-effective.
- The externally installed stable rims protect against damage.
- Maintenance and repair are considerably easier.
Precise maneuverability, very safe operation and increased productivity were the deciding factors for Austrian Airlines when opting for the omniMove sys-tem. The time taken to replace engines on an Airbus, for example, has been cut from sixteen hours to just five hours. Even more important for the airline, however, was the significantly reduced risk of injuries to personnel and dam-age to aircraft and equipment.
Service robotics - the market of the future
The omniMove platforms (both hydraulic and electric motor-driven) are set to open up new areas of application for KUKA robots in future development of mobile robots. These options are of interest not only for the aerospace indus-try, but also, in the future, in the field of service robotics – the central focus for the future of robotics.
This year, KUKA, one of the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots, un-veiled the lightweight robot. What is remarkable about this system is not only its light weight, but also its sensitive sensors. These make it possible for the KUKA lightweight robot to “learn” by being touched and guided by a person. And with its seven degrees of freedom, it is almost as agile as a human. This robot concept is an important milestone on the road to service robotics and medical technology.
About KUKA Roboter GmbH
KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg, is a member of the IWKA Aktiengesellschaft Group (Karlsruhe) and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots. Core competencies are the development, produc-tion and sale of industrial robots, controllers, software and linear units. The company is the market leader in Germany and Europe, and the number three in the world. The KUKA Robot Group employs about 1,750 people worldwide. Of these, 1,200 are employed in Germany, either at the KUKA Robot Group headquar-ters in Augsburg, or at various subsidiaries. In 2005, sales totaled 324 million euro. Over 20 subsidiaries provide a presence in the rest of Europe, the US and Asia.