Badminton-playing robot tests software designs of the future

May 15, 2013
Badminton-playing robot tests software designs of the future
Credit: Shutterstock

The drive to decrease the ecological impact of production machines is leading manufactures to focus on novel ways to incorporate energy efficiency in the designing of new products. One answer is the first-ever badminton playing robot - designed to test a software application that optimises energy efficiency in machine design.

The robot is the result of the ESTOMAD project ('Energy Software Tools for Sustainable Machine Design'), led by the Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) in Belgium. They have been looking at design approaches within sectors, such as agriculture and textiles, that are driven by performance and capacity, rather than energy efficiency. So the main goal of the project, with EU-funding of nearly EUR 2 million, has been to develop a methodology and related ICT tools to model, simulate, analyse and optimise energy flows and losses throughout the whole machine.

Wim Symens, Technical Director of Flanders' Technology Centre says, 'We decided to build a badminton robot to demonstrate the new technologies we are developing. The reason we decided on a badminton robot is that we thought it would be a really convincing demonstrator; a real eye catcher. There has never been a badminton robot, and everybody can play against it.'

He adds, 'We were able to cut down the energy consumption of the robot by 50 %.'

What the team found from observing the robot was that energy consumption of installed machines can be incrementally reduced by punctual modifications, such as replacing standard electric motors with alternatives.

With new design schemes developed by the ESTOMAD team, machines are expected to have an average energy saving of 30 % over their . It is expected that the newly adapted technology will also help the . This approach has previously been employed for products such as refrigerators and laundry machines.

Industry has already expressed interest in performing this type of analysis. For example, one of the eight partners involved in the project is Picanol, specialised in high-tech weaving machine construction. It has reportedly cut the energy consumption of its existing machines by up to 15 % by integrating the ESTOMAD software into its production line.
The ESTOMAD team believe that in the future engineers could use this software for machines even before they are built. Performing a virtual analysis at an early stage, they say, could provide a competitive advantage to industry.

Tom Boermans of engineering solution consultancy LMS International, Belgium, another partner in the project, says, 'A virtual approach is always the preferred one. You can even simulate strange conditions; very fast or very high temperatures. In real life, those tests are very expensive.'

It is thought that the badminton robot and the innovative software will help engineers of many different industries to cut down the of their production line, making production more sustainable while reducing the costs of their end products.

Explore further: Index ranks Japan Asia's most efficient innovator (Update)

More information: ESTOMAD www.estomad.org/

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

The ecological badminton robot (w/ video)

Jan 30, 2013

A robot to play with! A childhood's dream has now come true for researchers at the Flanders' Mechatronics Technology Centre (FMTC) in Belgium. Wim Symens and his team pioneered the development of the first robot ever to play ...

Automobile plants make more with less

Apr 12, 2013

Competition is fierce in the automobile industry. Worldwide overcapacity has created price pressures that are particularly challenging for manufacturers that are already having a tough time managing their ...

Making 'the cloud' greener

Mar 28, 2013

As the world becomes increasingly digital, demand for data centres is booming - and so too is their energy consumption. Data centres worldwide - many of them providing 'cloud' storage and services - produce ...

Tech gets energy efficient

Apr 12, 2013

'Information and communications technologies' (ICT) use energy as well as helping to save it - more energy-efficient ICT could help make further savings and reduce CO2 emissions. An EU-funded project has ...

Recommended for you

Future of energy storage

19 minutes ago

MIT professor Fikile Brushett is in the process of taking the power generated by wind and solar, chemically lashing it to molecules derived from flora and fauna, and storing it in liquids until it's needed ...

Protecting infrastructure with smarter CPS

21 minutes ago

Security of IT networks is continually being improved to protect against malicious hackers. Yet when IT networks interface with infrastructures such as water and electric systems to provide monitoring and control capabilities, ...

Reducing traffic congestion, remotely

29 minutes ago

At the Intelligent Transportation Systems World Congress last week, MIT researchers received one of the best-paper awards for a new system, dubbed RoadRunner, that uses GPS-style turn-by-turn directions to ...

How to print your own cell phone microscope for pennies

36 minutes ago

At one o'clock in the morning, layers of warm plastic are deposited on the platform of the 3D printer that sits on scientist Rebecca Erikson's desk. A small plastic housing, designed to fit over the end of ...

White House backs use of body cameras by police

4 hours ago

Requiring police officers to wear body cameras is one potential solution for bridging deep mistrust between law enforcement and the public, the White House said, weighing in on a national debate sparked by the shooting of ...

User comments : 0