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Like the vast majority of assembly line robots, Katana is a moving arm.
But that's where the resemblance ends. Unlike the hulking robotic arms
used on assembly lines, Katana is designed to work next to humans.
According to Werner Klecka of Swiss developer Neuronics AG, Katana
is the European Union's first robot certified as inherently safe.
Neuronics designed the small robotic arm to work with people the same
way a nurse works with a surgeon.
That means changing conventional robot physiognomy.
Like more powerful industrial robots, Katana uses several small motors
for six- axis motion (up-down, left-right, and diagonally back-and-forth).
But unlike larger robots, which need massive power supplies, it uses a
laptop computer-style power supply that plugs into a wall socket.
Slow and weak does not mean incapable.
Katana is designed for precision work. With one conductivity, four force,
and nine infrared sensors, its gripper is sensitive enough to place
objects with 1/250th of an inch accuracy. An optional video camera also
lets it recognize shapes.
Best of all, Katana does not take a robot expert to set up and operate.
Users can move the robot arm where they want it to go manually, and
then improve their rough positioning using control software.
The robot comes with neuronal software that actually learns on the job
and gradually improves Katana's ability to make decisions.