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Rapid roaming tech helps to keep mobile equipment connected

28 January, 2022

A Californian communications specialist has come up with a relatively low-cost technology that allows communications to be maintained with vehicles or autonomous robots as they move around a site. Antaira says that its “rapid roaming Wi-Fi” technology overcomes the 100m range limitation of Wi-Fi communications based on the 802.11ac standard. It argues that this range is usually not enough to ensure reliable operation and requires multiple access points (APs) to be installed to cover a large area, with vehicles or robots constantly having to switch from one AP to the next with a strong signal as they move around.

Technology clarifies rationale behind AI-based controls

26 January, 2022

Mitsubishi Electric has collaborated with the Japanese Institute of Physical and Chemical Research (Riken) to develop a technology that, they say, clarifies the rationale underpinning AI-based control systems.

€1.6m EU grant will help to build plant to re-use industrial oils

25 January, 2022

The European Commission has awarded SKF a €1.62m grant to install and operate a plant to regenerate industrial oils in Tudela, Spain. The project – due to come onstream in the second quarter of 2022 – will remove contaminants from used oils and return them to the same condition as they were when new, thus cutting CO2 emissions.

Radar sensor gauges micron distances in tough locations

12 January, 2022

A German start-up company called Ondosense has launched a radar-based sensor for measuring distances which, it claims, is the most precise and fastest on the market, with the widest measuring range and the smallest blind range. The OndoSense apex sensor promises accuracies of up to 1µm, a sensing range of 0.1-50m, and high (300Hz) operating frequencies. The lens of has an opening angle of just 4 degrees, ensuring reliable measurements using a tiny measuring spot.

Piggyback robots test infotainment systems in Fiat 500 EVs

06 January, 2022

The Italian car-maker Fiat is using a pair of robots, combined with powerful AI-based software, to automate the testing of infotainment systems in its new all-electric Fiat 500 cars. Testing such systems has traditionally been a repetitive, time-consuming process carried out by human operators at a high cost and with a significant risk of errors.

Intel, Moxa and port join forces on wireless TSN over Ethernet

04 January, 2022

Three companies – the industrial communications specialist Moxa, the chip-maker Intel, and the German software stack developer, port industrial automation – have collaborated to develop and demonstrate a “game-changing” platform that they say is the first application-to-application use of time-sensitive networking (TSN). The platform combines Gigabit bandwidths, high performance, reliability and security, with the potential for wireless communications.

Porsche will use 5G to control robots in real time without cables

20 December, 2021

Porsche is installing a 5G network at it Macan body shop in Leipzig, Germany, which will allow it to control robots in real time without using cables. The installation – Porsche’s first private 5G network – is part of a research partnership between the high-performance car-maker and the communications specialist Ericsson, aimed at cutting production times and costs, improving quality, and increasing worker safety.

Multi-role wireless passive sensor is ‘the world’s smallest’

13 December, 2021

A Slovak company claims to have come up with the world’s smallest passive wirelesss sensor technology, which can directly measure variables such as pressure, temperature and magnetic field strength, as well as derived quantities such as torsion, stress and flow, without making contact or needing a direct power supply.

Wireless power and data is ‘quantum leap’ for production lines

03 December, 2021

The German automation giant Beckhoff claims to have achieved a “quantum leap” in production line flexibility by developing a technology that transmits power and data wirelessly to and from “movers” on its the XTS production transport system. It says that development will open up many new possibilities such as the ability to handle, process, measure and weigh items on the movers.

AI optimises factory automation processes in real time

30 November, 2021

Mitsubishi Electric and Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) say they have developed an AI (artificial intelligence) technology that makes real-time adjustments to factory automation (FA) equipment while it is running. As well as eliminating the need for time-consuming manual adjustments, the AI estimates the confidence level of inferences regarding factors such as machining errors, and then controls the FA equipment based on suitable levels of confidence.

‘Revolutionary’ system turns controls into cabinets

23 November, 2021

UPDATED:  Beckhoff has announced “a revolution in control cabinet construction” in which an industrial controller becomes, in effect, a modular control cabinet, avoiding the need for conventional enclosures. The company believes that its “flexible, space-optimised and intelligent” MX system will change the way we design and build both control cabinets and automation systems in general.

ABB invests in 3D navigation start-up to guide future AMRs

22 November, 2021

ABB is taking a stake in a Swiss start-up that has developed a technology that allows mobile robots to navigate autonomously through complex, dynamic indoor and outdoor environments close to people and other objects. The company, Sevensense Robotics, founded in 2018 as a spin-off from the ETH Zurich university, uses AI (artificial intelligence) and 3D mapping technologies that are claimed to be more accurate than today’s 2D systems, and resulting in navigation that is more cost-effective than systems based on laser scanners.

Controller makes mass personalisation a reality

18 November, 2021

Omron has developed what it describes as the world’s first automation architecture for personalisation at scale. It says that its Robotic Integrated Controller (RIC) will make made-to-order mass production commercially viable for FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) businesses for the first time.

VW installs 5G network, paving way to smarter plants

19 October, 2021

Volkswagen has commissioned a standalone 5G wireless network at its main plant in Wolfsburg, Germany, to test whether 5G meets the demands of vehicle production, before adopting the technology more widely in the future. One scenario being tested during the pilot phase will be to upload data wirelessly to manufactured vehicles. With increasing levels of digitisation in vehicles, large amounts of data need to be transmitted to cars during production. 5G will make it possible to perform this much faster, and at any time during production.

3D collision-avoiding sensor works like bat echolocation

18 October, 2021

A German start-up has developed a 3D collision-avoidance sensor that mimics a bat’s echolocation techniques. Munich-based Toposens, founded in 2015, says that existing sensor technologies based on radar, ultrasound or cameras, can be negatively impacted by lighting conditions or moisture. By comparison, its Echo One DK generates robust, real-time 3D echo location data to guide autonomous systems in a variety of applications. The IP67-protected sensor is said to be particularly robust, tolerating dirt and not being affected by dust, smoke or mist.

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