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Nicole and Horst Gusterhuber, the two founders and directors of WHN Technologies GmbH, were thrilled when presented with the ROBOTICS AWARD 2016 today. Their X-Arm robotic hand came out on top against the other nominees: pi4 robotics GmbH (second place) and FARO Europe GmbH & Co. KG (third place). The ROBOTICS AWARD recognizes technological innovations that make a contribution towards robot-assisted solutions in the field of industrial automation or towards the development of mobile robots and autonomous systems. In order to qualify, entries for the ROBOTICS AWARD must be on show to the public for the first time at HANNOVER MESSE or otherwise constitute a significant further development of an already existing product or system. In addition, the expert jury wants to see solutions that are at least market-ready or, preferably, have been tested in an industrial environment. Another criterion is that the automation solutions must be seen as particularly progressive in both a technological and economic sense, and also should make an important contribution to fulfilling the needs of industry or society.

"This year, many companies from various sectors once again submitted applications with robot-supported solutions. As economic minister, this topic is very important to me. Robotics is an integral part of Industrie 4.0 and is very important for the future of business and competitiveness. This is reflected in the amount of space this topic accounts for at this year’s HANNOVER MESSE," said Olaf Lies, Economic Minister of Lower Saxony, about the Robotic Awards.

WHN Technologies GmbH from Grabenstätt in Bavaria satisfied all these requirements very clearly. Their winning X-Arm robotic hand comprises a modular multi-axle module that is located at the end of a manually guided manipulator and can be freely adjusted and rotated in all three spatial directions. This means that tools or other loads fitted to the robotic hand can be precisely maneuvered to any chosen position. The combination of manipulator and industrial robotic arm is worthy of special mention. This allows complex and varied assembly tasks to be executed semi-automatically with extreme ease and flexibility. The X-Arm’s main area of application is in the automotive industry, but there is also considerable demand in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. WHN Technologies’ robotic hand is already being put to good use at two locations in Bavaria: at the BMW plant in Dingolfing and at Heidenhain in Traunreut.

Second place went to pi4 robotics GmbH from Berlin, which entered a humanoid robot named workerbot3. This robot is used for manufacturing, handling and inspection tasks where a high level of flexibility is required. Two cooperative arms enable it to carry out complex movements efficiently. Alongside universal usability, one advantage of workerbot3 is that it permits cost-effective production in Europe. The “3” in the product name stands for third generation. In contrast to its predecessors, the current robot features stereo camera systems in its arms in order to register the 3D position of products, thus enabling corrections to be made to the position of the arms if necessary. The loading capacity per arm is ten kilograms with an arm length of 1.3 meters. The robot, which does not have to be programmed, can be taught to carry out new tasks. The product is now available on the market.

FARO Europe GmbH & Co. KG from Korntal-Münchingen in Baden-Württemberg was awarded third place for its innovation FARO FRIM. FRIM stands for Factory Robo Imager Mobil. It is a collaborative mobile robotic platform for 3D measurement in manufacturing and laboratory environments. This product is ready for operation in just a few minutes – and without any programming. As a mobile platform, it enables measurements at virtually any manufacturing location. The measurement processes for analyzing objects and generating 3D object data are carried out automatically. FARO FRIM is the first mobile 3D measurement platform with a collaborative robot that integrates all the necessary components. It can be operated without additional devices. Its target markets are the automotive industry, the aviation and aerospace sectors and mechanical engineering. Following real-world testing in industrial applications, the product is now in the market launch phase.