Robots have always fascinated him. “I am glad that I decided to study robotics at university after high school,” said Sven Schmidt-Rohr, one of the three founders of ArtiMinds. ArtiMinds Robotics GmbH, founded in August 2013, develops software with which end users can program even complex movements and tasks of a robot.
Since the sixties, computers have increasingly become lighter, higher performing, and cheaper. “In recent years, we have seen a similar development in the market for industrial robots,“ says Sven Schmidt-Rohr. Until a few years ago, heavy, expensive, and permanently installed industrial robots ruled the market. These had to be laboriously programmed by experts for one specific task and were, therefore, only worth their money for serial production with very high numbers of goods and identical processes.
The platform independent software developed by ArtiMinds is perfectly tuned towards a new generation of flexible industrial robots and makes it easy for end users to program. If a robotic arm is to perform a grabbing and turning motion, the first step is for a human to guide the robotic arm. The software then generates a movement program from the data of the movement performed. These movement data can be displayed with the help of 3D-images and, if necessary, be modified manually or optimized automatically. Furthermore, the robotic arm can flexibly react to sensor data. With this, entirely new areas of use open up: parts whose sides aren’t exactly the same length can be worked on by sensitive robotic hands; light weight mobile robots can move through the production plant and equip or maintain machines; human and robots can work on work pieces together.
The idea to found ArtiMinds emerged at the KIT. The three founders Sven R. Schmidt-Rohr, Rainer Jäkel, and Gerhard Dirschl already occupied themselves with the intuitive programming of robots when they were students and employees at the Institute for Anthropomatics with Professor Rüdiger Dillmann. Even now, the founders see the short distance to the KIT as a great advantage: “We are connected with the young founders’ scene at the KIT and, apart from the support through an EXIST-grant, we also benefit from the lively exchange between the founders.” There is also no lack of young, highly motivated and well educated scientists in the KIT environment. The engineer Schmidt-Rohr is currently dealing intensely with the next steps: further development of the software and testing its suitability for practical implementation in pilot projects together with industry partners.