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30 November, 2023

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UK-developed robot arm works inside aircraft wings

31 March, 2023

A Dorset automation specialist has developed a robot arm that can perform sealing, inspection and other operations inside aircraft wings and other confined spaces. Loop Technology worked on the four-year project – funded by a grant from the UK’s ATI (Aerospace Technology Institute) – in partnership with Belfast-based Spirit AeroSystems, which led the project.

Geckos inspire gripper that can grasp almost anything

31 March, 2023

The Chinese-American robotics developer Flexiv has announced a “revolutionary” robotic gripper that can lift almost anything that fits in its grasp, including oddly shaped items or those with uneven surface textures. Flexiv says that the Grav gripper, which uses an adhesive material modelled on geckos’ feet, represents the next generation of robotic grippers.

Voice commands control machines even in noisy factories

27 March, 2023

German researchers claim to have developed a way to control industrial machines reliably using voice commands, even in noisy factories. The researchers, from the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology (IDMT) in Oldenburg, say that using intuitive voice commands will allow shopfloor personnel to keep both hands free and to work more efficiently.

Custom gearboxes will ‘revolutionise’ transmission market

23 March, 2023

The German gearbox-maker Flender has announced a new generation of single-stage helical gearboxes which, it predicts, will revolutionise the market. The company – previously owned by Siemens, which sold it to the investment firm Carlyle in 2020 – says that the new Flender One gearbox sets new benchmarks for efficiency, operating costs, ease of ordering and maintenance, with every box having onboard monitoring and analysis to help avoid failures.

Smart on-battery electronics eliminates the need for inverters

17 March, 2023

A German start-up has come up with a technology that does away with the need for converters in battery-powered systems. The “AC battery” system, developed by Munich-based Bavertis, uses electronics to reconfigure battery cells several thousand times per second, and allows the battery to generate AC directly.

UK-developed 400kW motor is ‘most power-dense’ of its type

02 March, 2023

The UK powertrain developer, Equipmake, has unveiled an ultra-lightweight electric motor which, it claims, is the most power-dense of its type in the world. The HPM-400 motor has been designed for high-performance space, aerospace and marine applications.

Platform unites robots and sensors, boosting development

02 March, 2023

An Israeli developer of robot software has announced a new capability that integrates autonomous robots with sensors, cameras and automation systems, thus cutting robot development times by up to 60%. Cogniteam says, for example, that the development will allow cameras and other sensors to track autonomous robots as they collect laboratory samples, picking a path that gives them uninterrupted access.

Chainless drive gives a novel spin to e-cargo bikes

01 March, 2023

Schaeffler has partnered with the German drive specialist Heinzmann to develop a chainless electric drive system for cargo and utility bikes that achieves efficient power transmission from the pedal to the wheel. By doing away with chains, belts, gear rings, sprockets and other mechanical drive components, the Free Drive system is much less prone to mechanical wear, reducing the need for maintenance.

Trio develop a 5G alternative to control cables for hoists

28 February, 2023

Schneider Electric, Capgemini and Qualcomm have collaborated to develop a “first-of-its-kind” 5G-based system to replace wired connections – including control cables and video links – in industrial crane and hoisting systems. 5G’s low latency allows the system to replace fibre and copper cables for remote-control operations, simplifying networks, reducing wiring and providing reliable long-term connections.

‘Revolutionary’ software lets anyone program robots

21 February, 2023

A French developer has announced “revolutionary” software that allows non-experts to program and simulate almost any type of industrial robot, without needing to do any coding. Fuzzy Logic says that its Fuzzy Studio software will allow industrial users to create virtual cells and to robotise their production at an affordable price with low risk, even in situations that were once considered impossible – such as for small batches or complex parts.

‘First force-controlled parallel robot’ senses forces down to 0.1N

14 February, 2023

A Chinese robot developer has announced what it describes as “the world’s first force-controlled parallel robot”. Shanghai-based Flexiv says that its Moonlight robot will be ideal for applications that require precision motion and force control, such as fastening screws, polishing and handling precision loads.

Move away from control cabinets gathers pace

07 February, 2023

One automation trend that has been gaining traction in recent years is the move towards control systems that use rugged, decentralised, modular components instead of traditional centralised control cabinets. At the recent SPS exhibition in Germany, there were several companies were showing the latest examples of this trend in practice.

Three partners develop deep learning for vision systems

06 February, 2023

ABB-owned B&R Automation is enhancing its smart cameras with powerful deep learning functions. It has formed a three-way collaboration with the German machine vision software specialist MVTec and the Israeli AI chip developer Hailo to turn its cameras into powerful edge devices.

Can the ChatGPT AI bot be used to program PLCs?

06 February, 2023

A PLC expert has tested the PLC programming knowledge and capabilities of ChatGPT – the online chatbot that has attracted a huge amount of publicity since it was launched last November. Jakob Sagatowski, a PLC software engineer based in Germany, has posed a series of questions to the chatbot and recorded the results in a YouTube video.

World’s smallest servodrives get even smaller

03 February, 2023

Just months after claiming to have set a new world record for the smallest servodrive, the Spanish developer Ingenia has produced an even smaller device – a 250W drive that measures 33 x 17.6 x 6mm, and weighs just a mere 6 grammes. The new Denali drives are aimed at applications such as robots, industrial grippers and lab automation systems.

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