Comau is designing a powerful mobile robotics platform as part of an open, highly collaborative production environment, in the context of three different European projects.

The integrated solution, which leverages Comau’s proven expertise in internet of things (IoT)-enabled technologies and collaborative robotics, is a natural evolution of the company’s automated workflow optimization systems. Modular, scalable and completely re-configurable, the platform can be easily adapted to different applications without changing the system’s underlying software or hardware architecture. Furthermore, because the robotic arm is mounted on an autonomous mobile platform it is not tied to aSource: ComauSource: Comau single operation but can address a large number of applications in different areas of the plant as needed.

Collaborative robotics platform

Comau’s mobile robotics paradigm integrates the company’s high-payload Racer-5 COBOT, a six-axis articulated robotic arm that can work at industrial speeds of up to 6 m/s when human operators are not present, and its Agile1500 autonomous mobile vehicle. It supports customized and efficient operations where human operators and machines work side-by-side and is designed to handle individualized production within an Industry 4.0-enabled manufacturing environment. It can also be seamlessly integrated within Comau’s digital infrastructure, further safeguarding productivity and profitability across the entire manufacturing line. Visual feedback for pick and place operations, as well as other tasks, is provided thanks to an integrated vision system, such as the novel Comau MI.RA, installed directly on the arm. Finally, the robotic arm is mounted on an autonomous mobile platform equipped with two independent batteries that power the autonomous guided vehicle and the robotic arm separately and can be managed using different types of navigation modes and a standard Comau controller.

Three different European projects

The solution is currently being used within several European projects. In the first application, with DIMOFAC, an EU-initiative aimed at helping companies implement a smart factory architecture, the platform is being used for pick and place and warehouse automation tasks within a machining scenario. For PeneloPe, on the other hand, it is being used for glue dispensing and non-destructive quality inspection in the public transport domain. Here, the goal of the Horizon 2020 program is to develop a closed-loop, end-to-end digital manufacturing solution that facilitates bidirectional data flows across the entire manufacturing value chain. Finally, the platform is being used as part of ODIN to support the manipulation of mechanical parts for automotive applications with the aim of demonstrating the technical and performance feasibility of collaborative robotics on the factory floor.

Global market

The global market for collaborative mobile robots is significant, based on an internal analysis of published market data. Especially considering that collaborative robotics already represent up to 13% of the industrial robotics market and automated mobile robots are expected to achieve a five-year compound annual growth rate of 15% (2022 to 2027).

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