Robotics had been a technology that was accessible to only very few due to enormous costs, difficult programming and the separation of humans and robots through safety cages. However, the robotics industry is being revolutionized at this moment, providing the biggest opportunities for today’s business leaders. Large enterprises and small-medium sized businesses (SMBs) are queuing up to get their hands on robotics systems in order to enhance their production capacities and to overcome the continuously rising work load and manufacturing demands. This shortage had been recognized by Franka Emika’s founding team more than a decade ago.
Founded in 2016, Franka Emika GmbH is a young Bavarian high-tech company from Munich, Germany that envisioned the ideal robot of the future as a power tool which is accessible to everyone and which supports humans in carrying out unpleasant or even dangerous tasks. Consequently, in 2018 Franka Emika introduced the highly sensitive, easy-to-use, and learning-capable light-weight robotic system ‘Panda’. Based on this technology, Franka Emika introduced the world’s first CE out of the box solutions for industrial applications. To tackle the global market entry Franka Emika forms worldwide strategic partnerships to provide customers with light-robots, robot apps and software solutions, as well as services and consulting as for instance the joint venture Voith Robotics with the global technology group ‘Voith’. CEO and Co-founder of Franka Emika Dr. Simon Haddadin stated, “By bringing together a young company with its unique product portfolio and an experienced, family-owned and world-wide engaged company with a global network, we are creating a role model for Industry 4.0”.Simon added, “We will be able to offer customers throughout the world a combination of exceptional services and support, based on unique technologies.”
For the groundbreaking technology development, as well as the innovative commercialization of robot systems Franka Emika’s team received the German President’s Award for Innovation in Science and Technology 2017 (‘Deutscher Zukunftspreis’ 2017’).
Panda from Franka Emika
The company has introduced ‘Panda’ as the first system of an entirely new generation of tools, which are developed as research robots, as colleagues in factories, and as assistants in daily life for elderly or sick people. Inspired by human agility and sense of touch, it is a sensitive and extraordinarily versatile power tool. With torque sensors in all seven axes, the arm skillfully and delicately manipulates objects, flawlessly accomplishing tasks one programs it for. With this, one can easily predict the robot’s behavior. The robot is equipped with special controls that provide it human-like compliance and sensitivity. It responds instantly to the negligible point of contact with a human-like sense of touch and exhibits human-like reflexes that help to prevent humans from being injured during collision with the machine.
This system can be operated via Apps on any device such as smartphones and be taught new tasks within a few minutes, without requiring any programming skills. At the same time the system is sensitive to such an extent, that it can work side by side with humans and easily take over assembling, testing or inspection tasks. And beyond that, the possibility to simply multiply existing solutions on an entire fleet of robots, an entirely new level of scalability becomes possible.
An Innovative Entrepreneur
Dr. Simon Haddadin, CEO and Co-founder of Franka Emika, is a 32 years old innovative entrepreneur who earned his doctorate in safe physical human-robot interaction. Simon received the Managers of the Year 2018 award from Markt&Technik Spitzentreffen 2018 magazine with over 7,000 readers. The winner was selected by the readers. Additionally, he has more than 15 national and international publications in journals and conference talks, and a multitude of national and international patents.
Simon has a great educational and work experience including Military service with Air Transport Squadron 62 in session 2005-06. In 2006, he did Mathematics and physics studies at Leibniz University Hanover and from 2006 to 2012 he completed Medical studies from University Debrecen, Hungary. In between, in 2010, he participated in United States Medical Licensing Exam, and in 2012, he completed Dissertation to medical doctor with excellence at the Institute of Pathology and Neuropathology. From 2010 to 2013, he worked as research scientist at German Aerospace Center (DLR), Institute of Robotics and Mechatronics, and later, from 2012 to 2016, he was a PhD student at Technical University Munich, Graduate School of Bioengineering, and many more are queued further.
The thing that sets the robot Panda from Franka Emika GmbH apart from the competition is its manipulation skills. While some of its specs, means seven degrees of freedom, 80-centimeter reach, 3-kilogram payload, and 0.1-millimeter accuracy, are comparable with those of other robots, Panda is designed to perform tasks that require direct physical contact in a carefully controlled manner which includes sensitive insertion, screwing, and buffing, as well as a variety of inspection and assembly tasks that electronics manufacturers in particular have long wanted to automate. Summing up, the distinction towards the state-of-the-art is: accessibility through safety and usability, flexibility in terms of easy-to-use in various scenarios and scalability of existing and novel solutions.
Franka Emika is the bleeding-edge robot technology provider. Within the short future Franka Emika’s online platform, named Franka World, will go online as the center of the ecosystem, where the community will be able to exchange ideas and developers will get assigned to customers allowing them to deploy worldwide new solutions and applications. Besides that new mechatronic systems will be presented over the next years. Franka Emika’s aim is to deploy 1 million robots by 2025.