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KUKA Robot History

With the takeover of the Bremen-based engineering firm, KUKA's business really took off and the market shares were increased for welding and assembly systems. The rest is hsitory, KUKA now has a workforce around 3000 and overall sales of over 1.1 billion. Kuka Robot Logo1973 - The FAMULUS is the first robotic development from KUKA. The first with six electric motor-driven axes, this robot was a breakthrough for the automotive industry.

1985 - KUKA introduces a new Z-shaped robot arm whose design ignores the traditional parallelogram. It achieves total flexibility with three translational and three rotational movements for a total of six degrees of freedom.

1996 - At the Hannover Fair, KUKA presented the world's first PC-based robot controller. It was possible, for the first time, to move robots in real time using a 6D mouse on an operator control device. This teach pendant featured a Windows user interface for control and programming tasks.

1998 - The first heavy-duty robot creates a new class of reach and payload combinations. This long-range robot expands the application possibilities of industrial robots.

1999 - KUKA introduces remote diagnosis for industrial robots. This technology allowed errors to be corrected and eliminated through the Internet.

2000 - The first IEC 611310-compliant master PLC and robot system controller is introduced by KUKA and includes integrated Soft PLC (Programmable Logic Control). This eliminates the need for an external master PLC for industrial robots.

2003 - The KUKA Robocoaster is introduced as the world's first and only passenger-carrying robot. Determined to change the face of the amusement industry, this KUKA robot showcases the flexibility of industrial robot motions.

2004 - The introduction of RoboTeams allows multiple KUKA robots to work seamlessly together, requiring 20% less space. New programming technology allows individual robot control. The end result is shorter cycle times, a reduction of needed equipment, a lower initial investment, and higher productivity.

2005 - KUKA develops intelligent Safe Robot technology, allowing human workers to safely enter a protected zone in the workspace of an industrial robot. Safe Robot forces the robot to halt if a person or obstacle crosses its motion path.

2006 - KUKA releases a line of lightweight robots that weigh a mere 14kg. Programming is done by hand-guiding the robots. Each robot has at least seven axes that can be pushed and manipulated by the operator. This lightweight robot is the only one that can lift its own weight.

2007 - The heavy duty KUKA KR 1000 Titan is the first industrial robot with a payload capacity of 1000kg. Confirmed by the Guinness Book of Records, the Titan is introduced as the world's strongest 6-axis robot. It targets applications in the glass, foundry, and automotive industries.

2012 - KUKA launches its newest small robot series called KR Agilus.

2013- The first series-produced sensitive robot suitable for human-robot collaboration, is released: “LBR” stands for “Leichtbauroboter” (German for lightweight robot), “iiwa” for “intelligent industrial work assistant."

2014- KUKA opened up a new robot production facility in Shanghai. Also, Reis GmbH & Co. KG Maschinenfabrik,  becomes part of KUKA AG, renaming the company KUKA Industries GmbH & Co. KG. Another acquirement was Alema Automation SAS, a Bordeaux-based supplier of automation solutions for the aerospace industry. A big year, there is also the merger of KUKA AG and Swisslog Holding AG. With Swisslog, KUKA is gaining access to particularly attractive growth markets, such as warehouse logistics and the healthcare industry.

It is exciting times in the industrial robotic business, KUKA is looking forward to all that is to come!