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Kuka releases new operating system for its industrial robots

Kuka has released a new operating system that the company says will “mark the beginning of a new era in robotics”.

Claiming it is “as easy to use as a smartphone”, Kuka launched the new operating system at Hannover Messe, the annual industrial trade show in Germany, where the company gave audiences the first look at the OS, called iiQKA.OS.

Kuka says iiQKA.OS will “significantly simplify robot use”.

It adds that the new operating system will form the base of an entire ecosystem, providing access to a powerful selection of components, programs, apps, services and equipment that are easy to install, operate and use to enhance the system.

This iiQKA Ecosystem based on iiQKA.OS will make it possible for newcomers to implement automation without specialized training, while greatly improving and simplifying the process for experts.

Kristina Wagner, vice president corporate research and director robot X-perience program, says: “Automation is one of the megatrends of our time. That is why Kuka aims to make robot-based automation available to everyone as part of its ‘Mission 2030’.”

This is where the new operating system iiQKA.OS supported by the iiQKA Ecosystem comes into play: It is based on a modern and modular software architecture with usability and intuitive, user-friendly features built in across the user journey – and will offer a quick introduction to robotics for beginners and a significant improvement in automation for experienced users.

Software is more important than ever for the user-friendliness of an entire robot system. This requires an operating system that is intuitive to use and offers access to an ecosystem of components, programs, apps, services and accessories – such as will come with iiQKA.OS.

The sensitive collaborative robot LBR iisy will be the first of its kind to run exclusively on the new operating system supported by the iiQKA Ecosystem – in combination with the KR C5 micro robot controller and the new smartPAD pro operator device.

Kuka’s aim is not only to make robotics more accessible to newcomers, but also to further develop its existing customer base.

Over the next years, the goal is for every Kuka product to be equipped with the new iiQKA.OS and iiQKA Ecosystem – it is a long-term development project in which the first steps have now been made.

Starting with selected partners, the iiQKA Ecosystem will grow to become an open network of partners and developers who provide hardware and software – for example, a selection of grippers or other end-of-arm-tooling, camera systems for visual recognition, safety sensor technology or application-specific programs.

This is exemplified by Kuka’s first iiQKA Ecosystem Keystone Partners: Schunk, SICK and Roboception.

Open and standardized interfaces play an important role here, enabling partners and developers to provide such hardware and software extensions in a simple way, harnessing the power of the iiQKA.OS usability platform.

End customers and integrators benefit from this by quickly and easily finding the right combination of Kuka products and ecosystem provider add-ons for their particular application.

In the coming years, the ecosystem will offer functionalities and services that make the Kuka portfolio more flexible and powerful, able to adapt and scale as quickly as the market demands.

Built on a Linux kernel, the entire architecture of the new OS is designed for rapid development and maximum user-friendliness: iiQKA.OS will provide updates and upgrades quickly, so that more functions will be added over time.

The new OS will also support the existing Kuka Robot Language (KRL). This will allow existing customers who have expertise with Kuka.SystemSoftware to migrate smoothly to iiQKA.OS in the coming years and continue to use workflows and codes.

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