KUKA HRC Guide – Is my application ready for HRC?

Is it possible to integrate a robot into our application that assists our employees in their work and thus relieves them? What would have to be fulfilled and what could the whole thing look like? The KUKA HRC Guide provides answers to these questions.

In human-robot collaboration (HRC), man and machine work together directly. A topic that is becoming increasingly important, because the dividing fences between automated and manual workstations are to disappear in the factory of the future. In this way, the robot colleague complements the human abilities of intuition, knowledge and intellect with precision, repeat accuracy and power. But with the dissolution of spatial separation, new safety requirements also arise.

The European standard ISO TS 15066 deals with this challenge and specifies the force with which a robot may hit certain parts of a human body without injuring them. However, the force cannot be programmed on the robot. It depends on the speed of the robot, the mass that hits the human being, the size of the contact surface and the part of the body in question. It can therefore only be calculated with difficulty. “The standard is more of an expert tool that very few people can handle properly,” explains Florian Laquai, User Requirements Engineer at KUKA. “After all, what is important for robot programming is not the force, but the speed at which a robot is allowed to move.

KUKA HRC Guide calculates all parameters for human-robot collaboration

The HRC Guide App simplifies these calculations for the LBR iiwa. It can be used to specify the known quantities for all relevant parameters. This automatically generates the missing parameter, such as the speed. It is also possible to set the type of contact (transient or quasistatic). A transient contact is a free impact, a quasistatic contact is a contact with a risk of jamming. Another factor that is important for the permitted speed. “The app should tell the user simply and quickly what he needs to know. This was very complicated until now and is now child’s play,” sums up Maik Arnzen, Product Manager Simulation.

At this year’s Hannover Messe, the app was presented to the first customers: “Many people downloaded the app during a conversation at the fair,” says Albrecht Hoene, R&D Director Human Robot Collaboration. It is available for i.Os and Android. Those responsible are very satisfied with the download figures – outside KUKA there are currently more than 1,000 downloads worldwide. “We had actually only expected the downloads to go up after the trade fairs,” says Laquai. “In fact, however, the interest is continuously high. Especially in countries where the LBR iiwa is very present, the app is also meeting with great interest – an indicator that it is useful for the user. This is also reflected in the predominantly positive feedback. But comments on further improvements are also important: they help to further increase user-friendliness in the future.

App provides assistance in planning applications in which humans and robots work directly together. 

The development of the app is finished, but extensions are planned. This also includes an update to integrate the new collaborative KUKA lightweight robot LBR iisy. In addition, installation is to be made possible for further telephone models with different screen interfaces and new operating system variants. “Of course, we also want to keep expanding the functionality of the app,” says Hoene. “I imagine that at some point you will simply describe your tool shape and then automatically close the app to the contact area.

The concept of the HRC Guide app is based on a paper-wheel prototype that was developed in an interdisciplinary team during a “Design Thinking” workshop. The aim was to provide customers with a simple tool in the complex “HRC environment”. We therefore retained the so-called “speed wheel” from this workshop as a paper version for our KUKA Merchandising Store and distributed it to our customers as a promotional item at the Hanover Trade Fair and Automatica in Munich.

Download the HRC Guide App here and find out whether a robot could assist you in your production in the future.

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