SAPHARI - Safe and Autonomous Physical Human-Aware Robot Interaction - 6. KUKA Laboratories GmbH (KUKA)
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SAPHARI is funded under the European Community's 7th Framework Programme

6. KUKA Laboratories GmbH (KUKA)

KUKA Laboratories GmbH (KUKA)

KUKA grew from the company “Keller und Knappich Augsburg” which was founded in 1898. In 2009 the group employed 5744 people worldwide and had a turnover of just short of €1 bn. KUKA Laboratories is where the innovation activities of KUKA and the development of new products for the markets of the future are bundled. KUKA Laboratories is, amongst other things, responsible for the development of the KUKA controller and mechatronic technology. Safety is a major concern in this context.

KUKA is internationally recognised for its technologically advanced industrial robots. KUKA’s lightweight robot arm (LWR) is the result of a technology transfer from the German Space Agency (DLR). Because of its technical and design features (e.g., the integrated torque sensors) this type of robot is predestined for tasks where robot and human beings share the same workspace. KUKA’s Matlab Simulink framework allows for an easy integration of the algorithms developed by the project partners into a KUKA robot controller.

KUKA has a track record of successful co-operative research projects, both on a European and national level. KUKA is the coordinator of the European Robotics Coordination Action (euRobotics) which is actively driving the European Robotics Technology Platform (EUROP) and is known for its support of the academic community and a number of highly respected technology transfers. KUKA is also the coordinator of the research projects Best Practice in Robotics (BRICS) and Robotics-enabled Logistics and Assistive Services for the Transformable Factory of the Future (TAPAS) and contributes to several national research projects such as AVILUS.

In SAPHARI, KUKA will take the lead in WP8 and will guide the research in a direction that will make the exploitation of the research results feasible. KUKA brings its experience in industrial and professional service-oriented robot applications, especially regarding safety issues (e.g., KUKA RoboCoaster and the lightweight robot), to the project. KUKA is therefore in a perfect position to bring in requirements and use cases from both domains, to perform risk assessments and to develop useful concepts regarding safe human-robot collaboration. KUKA will also work on expanding its controller framework to allow the easy integration of the developed algorithms and of sensors as required for the implementation of the use cases. The third task is to bring the findings of the project to the attention of the standardisation committees to help develop standards that are sensible and appropriate for real world use. KUKA, being directly involved in several standardisation committees influencing (e.g., ISO 10218), will take a leading role in this context.

In PHRIENDS, KUKA was WP leader of WP1 (Domain Analysis and Dependability Approach) and contributed heavily to WP3 (Collision Detection, Reaction, and Safe Control) and WP5 (Integration, Evaluation, and Optimisation). Tim Guhl and Jonas Rümping were two of the researchers most heavily involved in PHRIENDS. As they will also take responsibility for KUKA’s contributions to SAPHARI, continuation and results can be expected early in the new project.

Key researchers

 Tim GUHL received his MEng Electrical and Electronic Engineering degree from Imperial College London in 2003. This was followed by a PhD in Cognitive Vision at the same university, which he completed in 2007. More specifically, his work was concerned with the fusion of the outputs of many vision modules to aid the unsupervised segmentation of images of unstructured scenes. Since his graduation he has been working for the KUKA Roboter Corporation coordinating and managing some of the company’s cooperative research projects on European level. He has an interest in standardisation issues and coordinates KUKA’s efforts in this context in other European Projects.

Jonas RÜMPING received his “Diplom-Ingenieur” degree in mechatronics from Dresden University, Germany, in 2008. He has been active in robotics since 2006 when he conducted a related project at the Universidad de Cantabria, Spain, and, later, at the ABB research centre. In 2009 he joined the research and predevelopment department at KUKA, where he has since worked on human-robot collaboration, safety technology and norms.

Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics (DLR)