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The topic of robotics has long seemed to divide into two camps: On the one hand, there are the highly specialised one-armed worker bees that diligently, stoically and reliably perform the tasks assigned to them, especially in production and logistics processes; on the other hand, there are the more playful, experimental attempts to design robots as the image of living organisms, sometimes as a dog, sometimes as a human, sometimes as a wolf tinger, as in the original idea. Robotnik Automation from Paterna in Spain, on the other hand, seems to oscillate somewhere between these two worlds. Started in 2002, it has grown over the 20 years of its existence to become one of the leading companies in the development and manufacture of mobile, collaborative and autonomous robots and manipulators, driven by a team consisting of multidisciplinary engineers with qualifications in various fields such as manufacturing, industrial engineering, telecommunications and software development.

Robotnik's customers are found in the industrial sector, where its products perform tasks in logistics or inspection and maintenance applications, as well as in other sectors such as agriculture, construction or security and defence. In total, Robotnik has placed almost 5,000 units on the market in around 50 countries. In addition, the Spaniards have been involved in more than 40 European projects in the field of mobile robotics.

Versatile, even without an arm

In the run-up to HANNOVER MESSE 2023, Robotnik is currently putting together the exhibits with which it hopes to impress trade visitors in Lower Saxony's capital, including the autonomous robot XL-GEN. This can be configured in different ways: either completely without an arm, prepared for integration of an arm from Kinova, or directly with a 7- or 6-DOF arm with the option of integrating a 2- or 3-finger gripper. Due to the low power consumption of the latter configuration, this mobile platform has an autonomous operating time of up to 10 hours. In addition, the XL-GEN, which uses an open architecture and the ROS modular control system, can be equipped with various sensors, laser devices and cameras.

Omnidirectional or not?

In addition, the XL-GEN has two possible kinematic configurations. In the omnidirectional configuration, the wheels are mounted on an independent suspension system. The actual Mecanum wheels, which allow a vehicle to perform omnidirectional manoeuvres without being equipped with mechanical steering, can easily be replaced by conventional wheels with rims, allowing an easy change from the indoor omnidirectional configuration to the versatile skid steer configuration, both indoors and outdoors. The XL-GEN was developed primarily for various research applications in areas such as inspection, medicine, logistics or remote monitoring.