They call it Trace Pen
The Dresden startup Wandelbot has begun to deliver its new programming pen. One of the first customers is Siemens in Chemnitz.
Dresden. Programming for everyone. This grassroots democratic idea has moved the Dresden-based start-up Wandelbots since its foundation in 2017, and the company is something like the Apple of the robot industry. Similar to the Californians in the home computer or cell phone market, they make sure that complicated technology is understandable even for laymen. With their latest product – the Trace Pen – this should now be even more successful.
Pen instead of jacket
While Wandelbots used to rely on a jacket equipped with sensors, with which, for example, a factory worker demonstrated a work step to a robot, which then automatically “learned” it, this process will in future be carried out with the help of a wireless programming pen: the Trace Pen. In concrete terms, it works like this: The user uses the trace pen to show the robot the path to be learned (“path”) on the workpiece, before the movement is visualized almost simultaneously by the Wandelbots software in the app belonging to the product. The user can then refine the path on the tablet intuitively and in the sub-millimeter range.
Technology should be fun
“Technology should be accessible and fun for everyone. We have the vision that everyone should be able to use robots simply, intuitively and naturally”, says Christian Piechnick, CEO and founder of Wandelbots. The Trace Pen is the world’s first no-code robotics teaching solution and an important step towards democratizing robotics, adds Piechnick, who worked with his team for a year and a half to bring the product to market.
Siemens as investor and launch customer
Among the first customers is Siemens. According to Wandelbots, Siemens AG is not only one of the first users of the Trace Pen, but has also invested in Wandelbots through its global venture capital unit “next47”. Siemens uses the programming pens from Dresden, among other things, in a production facility at its Chemnitz site for the production of individualized control cabinets. There, they are to automate constantly recurring work processes and thus form an interface between the human operator of the pen and the robot.
Companies save money
By “learning” the human positions and sequences, e.g. in assembly processes, a higher efficiency and flexibility in production should be made possible. In addition, the pens should save money. Currently, it is quite expensive for an industrial robot to take on a new task. Software accounts for 75 percent of the costs. Even for medium-sized robots in production, tens of thousands of euros can quickly be saved.
No wonder that the Deputy CEO of Siemens, Roland Busch, also draws a positive conclusion from the cooperation: “The innovative products of Wandelbots are further proof that the cooperation of our global venture unit next47 with startups delivers very concrete results. Through targeted investments in future-oriented technologies, real added value is generated for our customers – and this in Germany as a business location”.
Wandelbots in a nutshell
Wandelbots is a spin-off of the Dresden University of Technology. It was founded in 2017 by Christian Piechnick together with six scientific employees. The company was founded based on the idea of his wife Maria Piechnick to use intelligent clothing to control robots. At that time she was writing her doctoral thesis on the topic of wearables.
Today’s core product of the high-tech company is an intuitive learning system for robots, consisting of software and an intelligent teaching device – the TracePen. The company employs an international team from over 14 countries at its headquarters in Dresden. Currently, almost 100 employees work for the robotics company.