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Smaller companies in particular need cost-effective, easy-to-use solutions to make the most of the opportunities offered by Industry 4.0. The founders of startup KBee know that, too. The company is launching a flexible industrial robot, Franka Emika, that can be installed in no time at all. The seven-axis, torque-based arm identifies even light touches immediately and will shut down if an employee comes too close to it, for example. That is a key criterion for applications requiring close collaboration between humans and machines.

Including a control unit and cloud software for management and programming, Franka Emika is set to cost less than €10,000 when it comes onto the market next year. As a result, the model will be interesting for smaller companies, especially in the 3C market (computers, communications and consumer electronics). However, her price and hardware are not the only unusual things about Franka.

Drag & drop programming

Instead of programming algorithms directly into Franka, workflows can be compiled in a few minutes using a graphical user interface. Users can choose from pre-programmed motion sequences, e.g. pressing a button or gripping an item. Franka is delivered complete with several of these skills, and others can be purchased from an online store; they are developed by KBee itself or third parties. Apps are to be added to the store soon, i.e. complete, pre-configured workflows.

At KBee's stand (G17) in Hall 17, visitors could see for themselves how versatile the efficient robot is. With just a few clicks, the arm can be programmed to DJ on-site.