KUKA's industrial robots are usually all business. They do things like weld cars and assemble electronics. They don't play tennis or engage in sword play. At least, they didn't until recently. Aaron Rasmussen and his fellow engineers at USMechatronics have transformed a KUKA KR16 into a tennis-playing, sword-wielding robot that features a wireless control system based on a "WiiMote," the motion-sensing controller for Nintendo's Wii game console. "The idea was to take one industrial robot, add a laptop talking to a WiiMote, strap on a tennis racket, have it follow the swings that the user makes, and do it all in a few hours on a Saturday so we could get back to our busy schedules," Rasmussen writes on a web page describing the WiiBot robot's software development and hardware. After a bit of tennis, the WiiBot took up fencing. This video shows the robot in action. But don't think the WiiBot is all fun and games. KUKA plans to demonstrate this new wireless control concept at next week's ATX West Expo in Anaheim, CA. This concept cell was designed to show how robotic technology might trickle down from industrial robots to consumers, according to Kevin Kozuszek, KUKA's director of marketing. Read the full story here.
Both traditional automation companies and startups are developing technologies to improve processes on the factory floor, while smart sensors and other IoT-related technologies are improving how products are handled during transport and across the supply chain.
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