Washington, June 8 : Scientists at the Fraunhofer Technology Development Group TEG in Stuttgart are trying to develop an industrial machine that will work independent of batteries and power sockets, and will be less vulnerable to breakdowns.
The researchers have revealed that they have joined hands with industrial partners and universities in the EnAS project, sponsored by the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, to build a transportable demonstrator.
They say that the miniature conveyer system will be driven by compressed air, and will be capable of transporting small components in an endless cycle.
The round workpieces will be picked up by a vacuum gripper, transported a short way and set down on a small carrier, which will convey the parts back to the starting point.
The researchers have revealed that the machine will be equipped with sensors to perform all such functions.
According to them, a special feature of the demonstrator would be that the sensing elements would not depend upon any external power supply.
Photo diodes used in the machine would check if the carrier had been correctly loaded, which would be indicated by the obscuring of the light from the diodes by the workpieces.
The workpiece detector would derive the energy from solar cells, while pressure sensors that would monitor the work of the vacuum gripper would be powered by piezoelectric flexural transducers, which contain ceramics that generate electricity on being deformed.
The required deformation would depend upon the switching on and off of the vacuum pump, and the power thus generated would be sufficient to send an OK signal to the central control unit.
The researchers believe that the various system components will make their way into everyday industrial use within the next two years.