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List presents force-controlled cobot

​​​​List, a CEA Tech institute, has developed a force-controlled industrial robot to help make polishing mechanical parts easier.​

Published on 2 September 2016

​List drew on its broad, deep knowledge of collaborative and industrial robotics to develop a cobot that combines demonstration-based learning and force control. The cobot will be commercialized by startup Sybot, and the first market application will be sanding and polishing mechanical parts.

The cobot uses sensorless force-control technologies—a ball-screw and cylinder actuator and cable system—developed at List. It leverages measurements of the electric current in the motors to control force. The method is simpler, more flexible, and more robust than existing solutions. It also offers better performance, both in terms of responsiveness and precision. Plus, there is no need for operators to do any computer programming. Regardless of the part to be sanded or polished, the operator simply "teaches" the desired movement with the desired direction and force to the cobot, and the cobot ​repeats the movement as many times as necessary. This frees the operator from repetitive movements like sanding and makes it possible to work on several parts at once without compromising on the degree of control required to ensure part quality.

A patent was filed for the intuitive target-force learning technology. In the short term, this type of cobot could be used to polish industrial molds and medical devices like prostheses. In the medium term, it could be transferred to the manufacturers of composite aircraft parts.

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