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The Robotation Academy at CeBIT (photos)

Automated manufacturing is a big theme at CeBIT, a mammoth technology show in Germany, and the Robotation Acedemy is designed to school industrialists to become robot operators--and owners.

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Stephen Shankland
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1 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Designed to instruct

The Robotation Academy at Hannover Messe--site of the mammoth CeBIT trade show in Germany--is designed to instruct potential customers in the ways of robotics. CeBIT organizer Deutsche Messe runs the center, but Volkswagen instructors staff it in an attempt to improve manufacturing quality at the carmaker's suppliers.
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2 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Tire installation

Thomas Rilke, managing director of the Robotation Academy, describes a robot whose cameras let it install tires onto a car as it moves along an assembly line.
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3 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

3D motion control

A big part of the Robotation Academy is instruction. This pad is used to control the complex three-dimensional motion of the robot in the background.
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4 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Safety zones

This yellow robot is surrounded by strips of yellow-striped tape that designate safety zones. A camera overhead monitors the zones and gradually slows the robot as a person gets closer. On a typical production line, the robot would stop when a person got close enough then restart once a person left, but at the Robotation Academy, this robot comes with an even closer zone that stops it altogether. A keyed switch on a control panel restarts it.
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5 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CeBIT

Training robot

The Kuka training robot can select from a variety of fittings mounted on the vertical post to the left of the photo. Students learn how to maneuver it in relation to a table with a variety of geometric challenges.
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6 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Camera for alignment

This robot installs tires on vehicles as they move past it on a production line. A camera--the bar that protrudes in front of the top edge of the tire--ensures alignment as the car moves past the stationary robot.
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7 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

High-precision welding

Robots are used extensively among carmakers, for example for automated high-precision welding. This Volkswagen Passat interior at the Robotation Academy shows the metal structure of the car. Volkswagen instructors train those who come through the academy in hopes that smaller suppliers will adopt manufacturing processes with higher quality.
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8 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Meet Kuka

This Kuka robot is used in training would-be robot operators in how to control the automated manufacturing machines.
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9 of 9 Stephen Shankland/CNET

Ruggedized Windows

Rilke shows the interior of the Kuka robot's control computer. It's a Windows PC, but it's been ruggedized to deal with dust and other harsh conditions of a factory floor.

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