The new Industry 4.0 robot was launched by German robotics manufacturer KUKA at the Automatica in Munich this year.
Designed to revolutionise the automation of materials handling, KUKA’s Industry 4.0 robot, called the LBR iiwa, is a 7kg or 14kg payload robot that supports the Human and Machine Cooperation (HMC) concept with features that allow the new range to work without traditional safety fencing.
Greg Sale, CEO of KUKA Robotics Australia , who was in Germany for the launch, explains that the user’s ability to start and stop the robot with a gentle touch of the hand takes the whole operator/machine relationship to a new level.
Impressive features in the new generation Industry 4.0 robots include using the sensitivity of the robot to check the correct weight of the product being picked up; waiting for a product to bump it before picking it up, making redundant the use of external sensors; or closing a machine door just like how a human would, with variable force, all without the need for external or add on devices.
Speaking about the safety factor, Sale recalled he was a little nervous the first time he put his hand into the path of the LBR assembling two halves of a gearbox; however the force was a gentle touch and the robot pulled back without even leaving a mark.
LBR iiwa is the first industrial robot to have force torque sensors on all of its seven axes.