It’s been a heady past few days for Wandelbots from the eastern German city of Dresden. The no-code industrial robotics start-up publically launched its TracePen programmer on Wednesday, June 17. And that came fresh on the heels of the company, founded in 2015, announcing it had taken in an addition EUR 30 million in venture capital.
The name Wandelbots means “transformation bots” in German, and its TracePen is a hand-held device that allows human operators to “teach” industrial robots to carry out certain tasks and motions. It’s a quick and easy process requiring no reprogramming of computer code. The company, which was a 2017 Disrupt Battlefield competition finalist, says the technology will make robotics more economically viable.
“People are usually not aware that 75 percent of the total cost of ownership of a robot comes from software development,” Wandelbots CEO and co-founder Christian Piechnick told the online magazine Tech Crunch. “We enable manufacturers to use robots with a never-before-seen flexibility, and we dramatically lower the cost of using robots. Our product enables non-programmers to easily teach a robot new tasks and thus reduces the involvement of hard-to-find and costly programmers.”
It’s not just smaller companies that have been convinced. Wandelbots’ customers include Volkswagen, BMW and Infineon. The company sees itself as well positioned to service commercial needs amidst the constraints of the coronavirus pandemic.
“With a technology that leads to almost immediate ROI and an extremely short time to market, we hit a trend,” Piechnik added. “The dependency on human workers and the workplace restrictions (e.g., distance between workers) increases the demand for automation tremendously.”
Germany Trade & Invest (GTAI) robotics Expert Claudia Grüne concurs with that assessment.
“According to the International Federation of Robotics, one of the “Top Trends 2020” is that robots will get smarter – this means that programming and installation will become increasingly easy,” Grüne says. “Thus, with its teaching pen solutions, Wandelbots is really ahead of the trend of teaching robots by demonstration.”