Hand in hand with the LBR iiwa: the new way of driving

At the Geneva Motor Show from 5 to 15 March, the Swiss car manufacturer Rinspeed is showcasing Budii, its vehicle concept study. The steering wheel is mounted on a KUKA LBR iiwa.


It is well known that KUKA robots build cars, but building them into cars is something entirely new. Here it takes the form of a lightweight robot which serves as the steering column. This idea has been realized in a unique concept vehicle by the Swiss car manufacturer Rinspeed. In the Rinspeed Budii – a concept study based on the BMW i3 – the Swiss innovation pioneer has turned to KUKA robots.

The steering wheel is mounted on the sensitive and compliant KUKA lightweight robot, the LBR iiwa. This allows it to be moved across the entire width of the vehicle, with the result that both the driver and passenger can take the wheel. And as if that were not enough, if the LBR iiwa with steering wheel is positioned in the middle, Budii can even drive autonomously. In theory, the sky is the limit when it comes to the positions the lightweight robot can assume. It can serve as a table or even an attentive butler.

For the automotive think tank Rinspeed, the robotic arm in “Budii” serves both as a symbol and as food for thought. “The autonomously driving car will require more than solving technical problems and legal issues in the next two decades. We not only have to redefine the interaction of man and machine, but must also raise questions about responsibility, tolerances and expectations”, says Frank M. Rinderknecht, CEO of Rinspeed.

In the Rinspeed Budii, the human gives a hand to the robot in the truest sense of the word, showing how human-robot collaboration can become a part of daily life. Visitors to the Geneva Motor Show can experience the concept vehicle live from 5 to 15 March.

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