The battle for the title of "World's Strongest Robot" escalated
here at the IMTS 2008 Show, which featured demos of
two six-axis robots that up the ante on payload capacities and reach.
One of the new models, from Fanuc Robots, debuted here at the show. Called
the M-2000iA/900L, this powerful robot offers a 900 kg payload. And it
pairs that payload capacity with a wrist that appears super strong as well.
Precise wrist strength specs weren't available at the show, but Application Engineer Mike Erickson says the robot at the show managed to handle a
roughly 900-kg tractor frame whose center of gravity was 1.4m off the
robot's face plate. "We picked that load up from the end to show just how strong
the wrist is," he says. Aside from strength, the new robot offers huge reach
with a vertical stroke of 6.2m.
In its show demo, the M-2000iA/900L
worked in conjunction with other robots as part of a simulated welding cell.
The big robot first positions a tractor frame near a vision-enabled R-2000iB/165F
robot, which picks randomly piled brackets and places them on the tractor
frame. The M-2000iA/900L then positions the tractor frame near two quad-arm
ARC Mate robots to simulate a coordinated welding sequence for joining the brackets
to the frame. Upon completion of the simulated weld cycle, all the robots demonstrate
envelope or coordination paths. Finally,
the R-2000iB robot returns the brackets to the pick station, and the
cycle repeats itself.
A payload of 900 kg doesn't
quite break the record set by the KUKA
Titan, which was also on display at the show. The Titan can handle payloads up
to 1,000 kg, though it has a smaller reach than the Fanuc model with a vertical
height of just over 4m. According to James Cooper, KUKA's director of
strategic alliances, the Titan runs off nine motors, including two motors
that feed a single gear unit for axes 1 and 3. Axis 2 is powered by two motors,
each with its own gear unit. The Titan can withstand a static torque of 60,000
Nm and has a work envelope of 78 cubic meters.
Titan's payload record, however, has
now been beaten by another Fanuc model that wasn't on display at the show.
Fanuc announced it has developed a new six-axis model: the M-2000iA/1200, capable
of handling 1,200-kg payloads with a 1.25m offset from the faceplate and full
articulated motion at the wrist.
Regardless of which robot
holds the top spot when it comes to most desirable combinations of payload
capacity or work envelope, look for powerful robots in general to muscle their
way onto the shop floors of industries that need to manipulate heavy parts such
as complete vehicle bodies, big castings or heavy plates of glass. Robots this
big are being seen as an alternative to the expensive custom lifting, conveying
and dual-robot systems currently in use.