I Robot, you SME

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EU project designs robots for small firms.

A new generation of robots will be unveiled at the Automatica 2008 trade fair in Munich today designed for small and medium-sized manufacturing firms.

The latest initiative from the SME Robot project has brought together European robot manufacturers, system integrators, research institutes and partners in the field of industrial IT.

Small firms without the luxury of dedicated robotics experts have traditionally found standard commercially available robots too inflexible, too big or too expensive, according to SME Robot.

"This EU project is developing a modular and interactive generation of robots which, in addition to being quick to install and easy to operate, will help to make European SMEs more competitive," SME Robot stated.

The four-year project is being coordinated by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation in Stuttgart.

Developments include a new robotics system based on 'parallel kinematics' which combine high stiffness, low cost and modularity to make the system suitable for operations in foundries, forges and metalworking shops.

Also showcased is a relatively inexpensive and easy-to-relocate robot cell designed to be used in the narrowest of spaces for general handling tasks (such as picking up randomly arranged components) or for loading machines with components.

"The project is giving rise to technologies and tools aimed at helping industrial robotics to make a breakthrough into small and medium-sized enterprises," SME Robot stated.

"Complex cables and wires will be replaced by modern plug-and-play technologies that can quickly configure machines and systems and put them into productive operation."
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