25 Jul 2024


Pilz enters robot market with open, modular family

The German industrial safety specialist Pilz has entered the robotics market with a portfolio of modular products including a six-axis robot arm, a control module incorporating drive technology, and an operator module. The products made their debut at the recent Automatica exhibition in Germany, where Pilz was also demonstrating a prototype two-arm robot.

Pilz is aiming its robotics modules at “service robotics” applications such as: small, semi-automated industrial cells; pick-and-place systems; mobile applications involving automatic guided vehicle (AGVs); as well as non-industrial duties.

A key element of Pilz’s robotic technology is its openness. The company has developed software based on the open-source ROS (Robot Operating System), previously used for research projects. This software includes functions for processing and evaluating sensor data, and planning and control of robot movements.

The ROS technology is said to result in user-friendly operation and fast plug-and-play commissioning, allowing users to assemble their own customised robot applications.

Pilz’s robot arm, control module and operator module together form a package that has been certified by the German statutory accident insurance association DGUV in accordance with EN ISO 10218-1: Robots and robotic devices. The modules therefore meet the requirements for implementing safe robot applications, and this is said to simplify CE marking.

The six-axis robot arm has a 6kg payload capacity and weighs 20kg. It is powered by 24V DC, making it suitable for applications on board mobile equipment such as AGVs.

The PRCM control module contains drive and control technology to handle the robot’s movement and safety. Plug-and-play connections allow the modules to be deployed rapidly. The control module supports open communication protocols including CANopen, EtherCat and Profibus. It can be programmed using the IEC 61131-3 PLC languages or ROS.

The PRTM operator module allows the robot to be operated via a graphical user interface and visualisation software developed by Pilz. A touch-sensitive display is used to set up and teach robot movements. The module can be used to choose operating modes, implement emergency stops and receive diagnostics.

•  At Automatica, Pilz was also demonstrating a prototype dual-arm robot that was wrapping workpieces for another robot to transfer to an AGV, which carried it to a manual workstation, where it was handed to a show visitor. The transfer of the workpiece was performed safely using Pilz’s recently-launched PSENmat pressure-sensitive safety mat.