New Kawasaki 'Successor' sees robots collaborate with humans

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  • Plant & Equipment

Kawasaki aims to introduce robotics to more manufacturing processes through the use of a hybrid system that combines automatic and remote operations.


Multiple ‘Successor’ robots can replicate the movements of one expert engineer and use artificial intelligence (AI) to turn them into automated actions.

The robots can then pass on the knowledge gained from the experts to a younger generation of engineers through a feedback system that can reproduce tactile sensations, force sensations, visual sensations, auditory sensations and so on.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries says this ‘remote collaboration’ process allows the machines to reproduce delicate movements that require fine adjustment and opens the possibility of applying robotics to fields in which this has previously been difficult. These include:

  • Fields in which dispersion of accuracy in products is large and human skills are required, such as processes that require human senses like assembly and outfitting of products, and also casting and pressed parts
  • Fields in which many sensors must be used or whole lines and plants must be modified in order to achieve automation without human intervention, or where programming will take too much time and not make up for the cost and time
  • Fields pertaining to non-mass-produced products, such as made-to-order products and individual parts, in which product shapes differ slightly and product models are changed frequently

The Successor system uses new remote control devices called ‘Communicators’ which allow one worker to remotely operate multiple robots. The system is compatible with a wide range of Kawasaki robots.

"Kawasaki is creating the future of a new industry that will make effective use of robots, using technological capabilities that we have cultivated over a period of 50 years, starting from when we began manufacturing Japan's first industrial robots and continuing up to the present day," the company says.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries aims to first introduce the system into the robot manufacturing line at its Nishi-Kobe Works, begin limited sales this year and begin general sales in 2019.


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