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17 September, 2021

New-era robot OS is ’as easy to use as a smartphone’

15 April, 2021

The German robot-maker Kuka has announced a new operating system for its machines that, it says, will be as easy to use as a mobile phone and will mark the start of “a new era in robotics”. The iiQKA.OS system, which was previewed at the 2021 virtual Hannover Fair, will be the basis for an entire ecosystem, providing access to programs, apps, services and equipment that are easy to install, operate and use, and will allow newcomers to implement automation without specialised training, while improving and simplifying the process for experts.

Based on a Linux kernel, the modular OS is designed for rapid development and maximum user-friendliness. Kuka says it will be updated and upgraded to add more functions over time. The new OS will also support the existing Kuka Robot Language (KRL), allowing existing customers to migrate smoothly to the new OS and to continue using their existing workflows and codes.

The first Kuka robot to use the new OS is its LBR iisy cobot (collaborative robot), supported by a shoebox-sized microcontroller and an IP54-protected operator pad. Over the next years, Kuka aims to equip all of its products with the new OS.

The company is also planning to open the iiQKA ecosystem up for use by a network of partners and developers who will provide hardware and software such as grippers, camera systems, safety sensors and application-specific programs. The first “keystone" partners are Schunk, Sick and Roboception. Open and standardised interfaces will make it easy for the partners and developers to offer hardware and software extensions. Kuka says that end-users and integrators benefit by being able to find compatible combinations of Kuka products and add-ons quickly and easily.

Kuka’s first robot to use its new operating system is its LBR iisy cobot

Kuka is offering a “pre-launch package” that will give some customers the chance to test the new operating system in combination with the LBR iisy cobot, the KR C5 micro robot controller, the smartPAD pro operator device and an optional pre-installed gripper. The “collection of perfectly matched products, services and solutions” will give the users everything they need to experience the “revolutionarily simple iiQKA.OS and iiQKA ecosystem”.

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