Robots, humans coming closer to each other
The robots are looking more like humans, and the humans are looking more like robots. At the Opening Ceremonies of Hannover Messe 2017, the world’s largest industrial trade show, Schunk won the 2017 Hermes Award for innovation for its intelligent gripper module for robots that interacts with humans. Its flexible jaws can measure and learn the tactile strength needed for its work, and the module includes two cameras to allow the gripper to "see" its surroundings.
The grippers were on display as part of the pre-show press tour that precedes the gala opening ceremony. In the tour demonstration, a human-looking robot was grabbing, fastening and staging small toy cars. The grippers were one part of a larger robotic application.
And while Schunk won the Hermes Award, the attendees at the opening ceremony reacted most strongly to Swiss-based Noonee’s wearable leg exoskeleton, which allows a worker free movement while wearing the device, but also can fully support the worker if he wants to take a seated position. The "Chairless Chair" allows workers to switch between standing, sitting and walking at the push of a button.
With Poland as the Partner Country, the opening of the 70th Hannover Messe (Hannover Fair, in English) was a considerably lower-key affair than the 2016 event, which featured President Obama leading the U.S. delegation. But while his successor’s name was not mentioned by any of the speakers, Obama’s name was mentioned on a few occasions as German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Poland Prime Minister Beata Szydlo opened the event.
Perhaps the most spontaneous applause of the night came during the remarks of Prof. Dieter Kempf, president of the Federation of German Industries.
"Trade relations are a win-win situation," Kempf said. "They can benefit everyone’s prosperity. In view of increasing attempts to support protectionism and isolationism on both sides of the Atlantic, the message from the former President of the United States, Barack Obama, that we heard last year, was quite important. But this is a task we must all rise to."
Kempf praised Merkel for her message supporting free trade discussions between Europe and the United State during her visit with President Trump last month in Washington. Kempf also called the decision of Great Britain to leave the European Union "regrettable," adding, was disappointed that "the British government did not succeed in explaining that Europe is the solution and not the problem."
The message of this year’s Partner Country is, "Smart is Poland," and Szydlo emphasized that point during her opening remarks. "The Poland you will see at Hannover Messe 2017 is a young Poland, with new and innovative ideas."
That was driven home during Poland’s high-tech, high-energy artistic presentation. While the show sought to honor the contributions of three major Polish scientists—Copernicus, Marie Curie and Jacek Karpinski, who developed the first mini-computer with an expandable memory—it did so with an innovative computer-generated opening number that featured a singer whose 16-foot square skirt was the screen on which a dazzling array of moving images were displayed. The upbeat presentation had everything from gymnastics to a beat-box performer.
Hannover Messe 2017 opens Monday with the emphasis on how manufacturing suppliers are using the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) to deliver real-world applications.
Watch for continuing coverage on the Plant Engineering and Control Engineering websites. For IIoT coverage on both sites under the pull-down menu, upper left. For more on robotics, see the Control Engineering robotics page.