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The world’s most precise robot

Cooperation between Nabtesco and KEBA. The cycloidal gear specialist Nabtesco and the controller expert KEBA are among the technology leaders in their industries. Now the two robotics experts are bundling their expertise, experience and know-how. The goal: Industrial robots with the highest precision available on the market.

That gear effects can strongly influence robot path accuracy is a well-known fact. That is why Nabtesco and KEBA have been researching this phenomenon for many years – so far independently of one another: While Nabtesco steadily increases the precision of gears, KEBA continuously improves the software models compensating robot inaccuracies. Identifying the relevant parameters, however, is a painstaking process, due to lack of transparency. This has now resulted in the decision of the two international technology experts to take an unusual step: For the first time, a gear manufacturer and an automation expert are working together on the vision of creating the world’s most precise robot. The goal is the purposeful integration of gearbox-specific data and characteristics – directly from the manufacturer – into the robot controller. 

Robots with the precision of a machine tool

The goal of the cooperation between Nabtesco and KEBA is to enable customers to manufacture robots with point and path accuracy down to hundredths of a millimetre. This will open up new and fascinating possibilities in the manufacture of robots, machines and plants. Future applications will allow robot-based execution of high-precision handling and machining tasks with the precision of a machine tool. The result: maximum flexibility with no compromises in quality. 

Software instead of sensors

The software-based solution offers numerous advantages over smart sensors, including lower costs, reduced system complexity, and improved data quality. Another aspect is that not all data can be detected by means of external sensors. This applies for example to rigidity – and of course to empirical values from development. That is why Nabtesco conducts numerous tests before introducing a gearbox on the market, to learn exactly how the gearbox will behave as a result of wear or exposure to the effects of temperature and lubricants. All of these parameters are included in the development of the KEBA control system.

Upgrade for the robot controller

By bundling their know-how and combining gear technology with digital services, Nabtesco and KEBA are able to create a unique solution that is unequalled in the history of robotics. Two stages are planned: a Nabtesco add-on with generalised data of a particular gearbox model, and an additional upgrade for even higher precision with the specific data of the gearboxes ultimately to be installed. Currently the project is in the test phase. A first pioneer application will be implemented in cooperation with autonox Robotics GmbH.