Robotics & Automation News

Market trends and business perspectives

Kawasaki ‘Successor’ to expand human-robot remote collaboration

Kawasaki Heavy Industries has a new robot system, Successor, that reproduces the movements of expert engineers through remote collaboration.

The company is first introducing the system into the robot manufacturing line at its Nishi-Kobe Works and will begin limited sales to select customers in FY2018, followed by general sales in FY2019.

Successor is a system that features newly-developed remote control devices that enable remote collaboration. Remote control will make it possible to apply robots to a wide range of fields, and the system is compatible with a wide range of Kawasaki robots.

The system can take operator-performed movements at remote devices and convert them into automated operations by a robot. Also, using the system’s AI capability, the robot learns from repeated movements performed by expert engineers and automatically reproduces delicate movements and fine adjustment.

As a result, it opens the possibility of applying robots in fields where robotization has been difficult thus far, such as :

  • Fields where product or part variances are large and human skills are required, such as processes that require human senses such as assembly and outfitting of products, as well as castings and pressed parts
  • Fields where many sensors must be used or whole lines and plants must be modified in order to achieve automation without human intervention, or where programming will take too much time
  • Fields pertaining to non-mass-produced products, such as made-to-order products and individual parts, in which product shapes differ slightly and product models are changed frequently

The system can take movements that expert workers have taught the robot to learn, and pass them on to newcomers as skills, through a feedback system that can reproduce tactile sensations, force sensations, visual sensations and auditory sensations.

The system uses new remote control devices (called “Communicator”) that enable remote collaboration so automated operations by a robot and remote operations by a human can be freely combined. One worker can remotely operate multiple robots using one Communicator.

The robot can learn, as is, movements that have been performed by humans through remote operations, and convert them into automated operations.

Using AI technology, the robot can even learn work with variances that have been performed by humans through remote operations, and convert it into automated operations.

Also, as robots learn work performed by expert engineers, skills can be passed on to successors through the robots.