There seem to be robots for everything nowadays, so it was only a matter of time before someone came up with an ecological badminton robot, right?
While the idea may sound strange, the robot is in fact real, developed by the Flanders’ Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) in Belgium.
Head of the project Wim Symens developed the robot, the first ever to be able to play badminton, but there was a different motive to the project.
The real goal wasn’t just to create a badminton-playing bot, but to test a new software application designed by the company.
The software is known as ESTOMAD, and is a way of optimizing energy efficiency in machine design. The research project was funded by the EU, and its results were impressive enough to warrant a new project – to create a robot to test the application.
The ESTOMAD computer program is capable of detecting components of mechatronic systems that use unnecessary amounts of energy.
“We were able to cut down the energy consumption of the badminton robot by 50 percent,” said Symens.
Others in the robotics industry are also taking notice of the benefits of performing this type of energy efficiency analysis, including weaving machine manufacturer PICANOL.
The software is innovative in that it can be adapted to an existing robot or production line without making significant changes to the infrastructure.
By incorporating the program into its production line, PICANOL was able to cut the energy consumption on their machines by 10-15 percent.
The software could also dramatically change machines before they are even built, as it can perform a virtual analysis on a proposed machine, and then changes can be made, saving money and time.
Tom Boermans, one of the partners in the project, works at the engineering solution consultancy LMS International, also based in Belgium.
Boermans commented on the advantage this capability could have for the robotics industry, saying, “A virtual approach is always a preferred one. You can even simulate strange conditions; very fast or very high temperatures. In real life those tests are very expensive!”
So while badminton may not be an extremely important use of robotic technology, as a test case it has worked perfectly.
Edited by Braden Becker