New German Industrial Robots (Hannover Expo)

Poor visibility in the factory of the future? Since there could be accidents between industrial robots and humans. German researchers have now developed a radar scanner that permeates optical barriers like dust, clearly sees smoke, fog or rain.

Industry 4.0 Expo is Hanover is biggest exhibition on old continent. The smooth interaction between man and machine is crucial for the intelligent factory of the future. Because of the trend towards industrial robots operate autonomously and without protective barriers. As the reach truck can move freely in the area can and also present danger to other machines and humans in area.

German Industrial Robotics Presented at Hannover Exhibition 2016 solution that solves all issues.

This new freedom but also risks, because industrial robots often have a fairly large radius of action. Therefore, it is crucial that the security at any time is guaranteed in this human-robot collaboration.

Dust or mist can obstruct the view

For this, the danger zone in the vicinity of the machines is so far monitored with laser scanners. A person enters this risk zone stops the machine. In the real production conditions, changing light situations disturb the optical detection system. Also, smoke, dust, mist or rain can obstruct the view.

German Industrial Robot Radar Scanner Tube
Look through cardboard or plastic failing the human eye. What remains hidden, makes visible a radar of the Fraunhofer Institute for applied solid state physics: the system uses millimeter waves at 94 GHz, and a bandwidth of 15 GHz. While the radar module is no bigger than a cigarette packet. Photo: Fraunhofer Institute

Now, researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute have developed a compact, modular 360-degree radar scanners for applied Solid Body Physics (SBP) which sends out waves in the millimeter range. Millimeter waves shine through all dielectric and thus not optically transparent materials such as clothing, plastic sheets, paper, but also dust, rain, snow and fog.

Distance, position, and speed of people are detected in real time.

“Our radar not focused to a point, but sends the millimeter wave club shaped. Unlike as in the laser scanner the signals be reflected even if optical sight disabilities are”, explains Christian Zech, scientists at the IAF. Transmission and reception signal will be processed with the help of numerical algorithms and evaluated. From these calculations, distance, position, and even the speed of the persons can be identified.

Several radar sensors are used, can determine the location of the people in the room and the direction in which they move. A mirror mounted at a 45-degree angle, spinning distracts the millimeter wave, forwards and captures the complete room. The opening angle of the dielectric antenna is freely adjustable. This allows for small objects at close range, but also far-away areas collect several hundred meters away.

Cooperation with other Fraunhofer institute

The radar scanner is thereby extremely compact: has a diameter of 20 cm and 70 cm high. The cigarette box-small high-frequency module with Indium-gallium-arsenid semiconductor technology is located in the base of the sensor. “Nowadays applications are dominated by waveguides, that makes them extremely expensive in production.”

German Industrial Robot Radar Scanner
German Industrial Robot Radar Scanner

Through a low-cost Assembly and connection technology and specially designed circuit boards we could replace the waveguide and integrate radio frequency module on a 78 x 42 x 28 millimeters wide Board”,said Zech. This high-frequency module of the radar sensor developed in close cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institutes for reliability and micro integration IZM and for manufacturing engineering and automation IPA.

Sensational measurement accuracy

After hundreds of measurements in the laboratory, the SBP experts know: the accuracy of radar sensor is sensational. The maximum deviation from the mean is at below one micrometer, the standard deviation of 0.3 microns. The measuring miracle with an Ethernet interface is equipped so that the radar sensor for the industry 4.0 networks is well prepared.

Curious? At the Hanover fair, the SBP experts have a demonstrating robot in the luggage. This is from 25 to 29 April in Hall 2 at stand C 16 / C22 and then from 10 to 12 may in Hall 5, stand 5248. come to see this Robot in action.