KUKA is Revolutionizing Robotics With a Sensitive Touch
At the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant in Germany, KUKA lightweight robots are being used for the first time in series production.
By Robotics Trends Staff - Filed Dec 04, 2009

KUKA and the German Aerospace Center co-develop a small, lightweight robot, in use in piolet projects since March 2009, was designed to operate in close association with human co-workers.



KUKA Roboter GmbH, based in Augsburg, is demonstrating once again that it wants to play a key role in shaping the future of robotics. The KUKA lightweight robot (LWR), developed in cooperation with the German Aerospace Center, is being used in series production for the first time: in rear axle assembly at Daimler’s Mettingen plant.

“The lightweight robot is a prime example of the successful transfer of technology from science to industry,” explained Manfred Gundel, CEO of KUKA Roboter GmbH, at a press conference at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant. Since March 2009, Daimler AG has been using KUKA lightweight robots there in a pilot project for series production. Already, over 10,000 rear-axle transmissions have been assembled using KUKA lightweight robots. The LWR performs demanding assembly tasks that require utmost precision, and a sensitive but powerful touch. It comes amazingly close to the motion sequences of the human arm. The operator can manually guide the robot to different positions in the workspace and control and teach it using the very simple user interface.

In-Built Sensitivity
With its in-built sensitivity, achieved by means of the integrated sensors, the LWR is ideally suited to handling and assembly tasks. Due to its low weight of 14 kg, the robot is extremely energy-efficient and portable and can thus be used for a wide range of different tasks. Dr. Michael Zürn, Head of Production and Materials Application Technology at Mercedes-Benz, sums it up as follows: “Our assessment so far of the LWR pilot project at our production plant is extremely positive and we are optimistic that we will be able to use lightweight robots for other tasks in the future.”

New Robot-Type for Human-Robot Cooperation
The joints of the lightweight robot are connected using CRP structures and its remaining components are also optimized for weight. Through the integration of this new-generation robot with the PC-based KUKA robot controller, a completely new type of robot is emerging, that is specifically designed to share its work envelope with humans.

KUKA Roboter GmbH has long been concerned with the topic of human-robot cooperation. Manfred Gundel explains the vision of the Augsburg-based company: “We want to establish the robot as an intelligent assistant that can support the human operator with its high-quality work. The LWR is an important milestone on the road to service robotics.”

About the KUKA Robot Group
KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg, is a KUKA Aktiengesellschaft company and ranks among the world’s leading suppliers of industrial robots. Core competencies are the development, production 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 2,200 people worldwide. Of these, 1,200 are employed in Germany, either at the KUKA Robot Group headquarters in Augsburg, or at various subsidiaries. In 2008, sales totaled 474 million euro. 25 subsidiaries provide a presence in the major markets of Europe, America and Asia.

Contact
Jürgen Schulze-Ferebee
KUKA Roboter GmbH
Corporate Communications
Head of Corporate Communications
Global Sales Center
Hery-Park 3000
86368 Gersthofen, GERMANY
P:  +49 821 4533 3473
E: 

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