Hannover Messe 2009

If you want to know which groundbreaking innovations in industrial automation will be shaping our lives over the coming months and years, then Hannover Messe 2009, an industrial trade fair held in Hannover, Germany, is the place to go.

Necessity is the mother of invention: our expertise in high-tech matters tends to increase as resources become scarce - the balance is tipping in favour of expertise at lightning speed.

Robotation Academy

The Robotation Academy was launched in January. This new 2,500m2 training centre aims to offer tailor-made courses to small and mid-size companies playing catch-up on the subject of robotics.

Thomas Rilke, automation project manager at Deutsche Messe and CEO of the Robotation Academy, explains: "The centre we are building in Germany is the first of its kind in the world. It is designed to accommodate congresses and training courses on automation and robot technology.

"What really sets the centre apart is the fact that the courses are held amid robot and automation solutions of well-known manufacturers. In other words, participants have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the technology."

Application Park

The show organisers are teaming up with the German Engineering Federation to present the Application Park special display at the Factory Automation Trade Fair.

Staged in Hall 17, Application Park will be the scene of live demonstrations of automation expertise which will not only allow visitors to get a first-hand look at some typical applications, but will also provide suppliers of automation components or solutions with that all-important, direct opportunity to promote confidence in their solutions competence.

The main focus at the special display this year will be on robot-supported automation and identification technology.

Mobile robots

After its spectacular live demonstrations proved such a big hit last year, the Mobile Robots & Autonomous Systems special display will be back.

Professor Dr Frank Kirchner, speaker of the Bremen location of DFKI and director of the Robotics Laboratory at the University of Bremen, says: "By consolidating the topic of 'Mobile Robots & Autonomous Systems' in its own hall last year, including a high-class speakers' forum and mobile areas for live system demonstrations, we were able to offer an authentic presentation of our extensive expertise in the areas of underwater, aeronautical and security robotics for the benefit of visiting specialists."

Flying UAVs

A further refinement in 2009 involves live demonstrations not just in the special 'mobile areas', but also in the air where UAVs (unmanned air vehicles) will be a special highlight. This will be backed up by demonstrations of glass façade-cleaning robots - also decidedly 'above ground'. The technology behind all of these mobile helpers is as sophisticated as it is reliable.

"Technological advances in computer science and embedded systems are making it possible to steadily increase the autonomy of technical systems," explains Matthias Brucke, director of business development at the OFFIS Institute for Computer Science. Brucke is bringing 'Guard', his organisation's flying robot, to the show. The potential applications for this robot include the surveillance and protection of national borders, monitoring of maritime and coastal zones and the monitoring of critical infrastructures involving traffic, energy supplies and the urban environment.

"Autopilots to keep a plane on course are a longstanding feature of aviation," declares Brucke, at the same time offering a hypothesis that appears highly plausible once you see Guard flying through the air: "I believe that autonomous flying robots will become an established part of civil aviation, possibly even taking on additional tasks in the field of logistics and transport."

Wireless ballet

Götting KG, the Lehrte-based manufacturer of sensors for automatic guided vehicle (AGV) systems, has been developing and producing wireless control and sensor technology since 1965.

"AGVs have played a special role over the past two decades, particularly in Germany," reports Hans-Hermann Götting, managing director, adding: "Germany, where more than 20 companies currently specialise in AGV technology, is actually the world's leading technology provider in this field.

"All AGVs are members of a 'ballet' troupe, being coordinated by a wireless control system so they can move in a tight space and still not collide with one another."

This will reportedly be the first time such a large number of vehicles from different manufacturers have been guided in unison. Given the tough competition in the marketplace, manufacturers have, up to now, avoided cooperating to such an open extent.

"To our knowledge, this performance will represent a unique first anywhere in the world," enthuses Götting.

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