At last month’s Automatica exposition in Munich, Germany, robotics suppliers unveiled the latest in machine vision, control software, and collaborative technologies. In addition, exhibitors from around the world released products including an exoskeleton for ergonomics, assistants for manufacturing and retail, and other assistive robots.
Exoskeleton to behave like a ‘second skin’
Comau SpA unveiled MATE, a wearable exoskeleton that uses a passive structure to provide lightweight, breathable posture support. The exoskeleton was created through a partnership involving Italy-based Comau; Össur, a leading on-invasive orthopedics provider in Iceland; and iuvo Technologies Inc., a Westford, Mass.-based spin-off of The BioRobotics Institute in Italy.
MATE can replicate shoulder movement while adhering to the body like a “second skin,” said Comau. The exoskeleton provides consistent, ergonomically-assisted movement support to increase the quality and precision of repetitive tasks, reducing activity for some muscles by as much as half. As a result, users can perform tasks with less fatigue.
Other MATE features include a compact structure to follow upper-limb movements and spring-based mechanism that eliminates the risk of battery or motor failure.
MATE is part of Comau’s HUMANufacturing Technology strategy, a concept in which people work in smart factory together with cutting-edge, digital tools and “intelligent” industrial robotics within a networked production system.
Assistive robots offer greater capabilities to human patients, co-workers
F&P Robotics AG claimed that its Lio is a human-friendly, collaborative mobile robot with a robotic arm, voice control, sensory skin, and Internet functions.
The Swiss company said its assistive robots can help elderly and handicapped people, support nursing home staffers, serve food, and clean, among other chores.
Germany-based BEC GmbH‘s Robotic Interactive Care (RIC) system includes a lightweight KUKA iiwa robot. It is designed to enable re-learning of motor skills after neurological injury. The robot’s end effector is fitted with a baby shoe to play a game of soccer.
Patients can grasp the shoe and play the game on a large screen, adjusting the level of assistance as their recovery progresses.
More collaborative robots at Automatica 2018
Seiko Epson Corp. launched its WorkSense W-01, a dual-arm robot designed for the production of individual products in a low number of pieces.
Japan-based Epson also displayed the latest features of its T6 SCARA and VT6-L six-axis robots, designed as entry models for inexpensive automation solutions.
Canadian company Kinova Inc. displayed its “ultra lightweight” six-axis robotic arm with a two or three-finger hand that can individually grasp different kind of objects. At the show, booth visitors could ask the robot to pick up specific tools from a table.
Pick-It’s 3D camera and software can detect individual parts’ positions, even in poor visibility, when items overlap or come in varying sizes and materials.
Mojin Robotics showed its Care-O-bot 4, a mobile robot assistant that actively guides and supports humans in environments such as retail stores, hostels, offices, and, exhibition spaces such as that at Automatica. (See image above.)
Care-O-bot 4 could ask passers-by if they are interested in a particular application area and it offered to guide them there or provide alternative suggestions. One Care-O-bot nicknamed “Paul” is already guiding customers in several retail stores, said Germany-based Mojin Robotics.