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Touch-sensitive skin for collaborative industrial robots (cobots)

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - AIRSKIN (Touch-sensitive skin for collaborative industrial robots (cobots))

Reporting period: 2018-02-01 to 2018-05-31

A collaborative robot or cobot is a robot that can safely and effectively interact with human workers while performing industrial tasks. But there is no standard/pre-certified solution to convert a standard robot into a safe cobot complying with the new ISO/TS 15066 Robots and robotic devices - Collaborative robots specification. The few available cobots in the market do not meet the specific industry needs. The best solution would be for the industry to upgrade their existing industrial robots – already able to perform the needed tasks – to make them safe for collaborative work. Blue Danube Robotics has developed a tactile safety solution with the highest safety rating of Cat3/PLe6 for industrial robots. AIRSKIN® are soft airtight pads that detect contact via measuring the pressure variations of the air inside the pads. A complete industrial robot can typically be covered using a dozen individual pads, converting it into a cobot.
During the Phase 1 of the SME Instrument Blue Danube Robotics (BDR) successfully performed the further technical and business feasibility of the AIRSKIN technology. In particular the concept shaping of the AIRSKIN flange was performed, which is believed is the next step on the product development roadmap, as a result of real user needs to make the robot grippers safe as possible.
BDR has validated the problems that intend to solve with AIRSKIN technology and its competitive edge with the confirmation deducted that there are no competing solutions that are superior to AIRSKIN. During the Phase, BDR also listed the use cases i.e. robot model types, where AIRSKIN is believed to provide the biggest impact. This was important to see the commercialization pathway from the current prototype stage. The current manufacturing process was found as sufficient that at a later stage can be revalidated how to scale up.
BDR prepared a draft product development plan for the AIRSKIN flange, highlighting main objectives of such technical development and resources needed. The direct cost of the pure product development over 2 years is estimated around €2 m. Several current and future stakeholders were engaged and their interest for an eventual Phase 2 project secured.
During Phase 1, BDR comprehensively assessed the industry, the robotics market and trends and scouted and listed potential customers: robotic manufacturers, integrators of robotic solutions and leaders in industrial automation. The focus was on global players and European companies, which are the most viable for a large scale commercialization of the AIRSKIN technology.
BDR validated the organizational growth of the company during the next 5 years, as well as prepared financial projection that confirmed a cumulated revenue of €113.6m and a cumulated profit of €20m.
Overall, Phase 1 provided time and resources to research the market, and better understand the use cases of the ARISKIN technology. Also, dozens of discussions took place with potential stakeholders, based on which BDR was able to better define the objectives and the next steps. In summary, Phase 1 convinced the management of BDR to further pursue the idea and to prepare next steps towards the product development that will focus on the flange, to be conducted with the help of Phase 2 of the Horizon 2020 grant scheme.
AIRSKIN® is the first pre-certified “one-fits-most application” solution for robot manufacturers and integrators to upgrade their robots into safe cobots. Based on preliminary discussion with Manufacturers and Integrators of robots, they are willing to spend to turn them into a safe cobot, and they are looking for pre-certified modules, whose certification can be easily adapted/expanded based on the final solution. AIRSKIN will accelerate the development of robotics in Europe and worldwide that will make manufacturing more effective, increase sales and margin that can lead to more jobs.
AIRSKIN fited on a robotic arm