Wireless teach pendants for robots

Wirelesses teach pendants for robots are allowed to use (at least in the European union and the USA) for over 10 years. During this period they don’t become popular.

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Cables could be annoying. They like to tangle, they are always too short and they are relatively easy to damage (for example during teaching a robot mounted on the linear track). I regularly keep stepping on the wire and it’s so annoying especially while programming. Wireless teach pendants looks like a very nice idea to solve all these problems.

Safety of wireless communication in industrial robotics

What about safety? RIA and ISO standards allow to using wireless safety-rated devices (like e-Stops). Since safety-rated devices can be connected via TCP/IP networks, now, the network media (wired or wireless) are essentially irrelevant.  If a network connection is lost or suffers too many packet delays, the system fails safe.

The first wireless teach pendant was offered on the marked by Comau from 2006 (with C4G controller). Comau decided to use a standard Wi-Fi connection (802.11 a/b/g) with a proprietary transmission protocol.

Comua TP5 wireless (no cable) operating panell for robot
Photo: Comau

Second company which has wireless teach pendant (or shorter: WiTP) is OTC DAIHEN. And as far as I know that’s all, no one else offers WiTP.

WiTP wireless daihen etachpendant for robot

Why wirelesses teach pendants are so unpopular? Besides all of the advantages there also problems which need to be solved.

No wire means also no external power source. WiTP has to have a battery large enough to allow work for many hours without a recharge. A big battery means a heavier device which is bad for ergonomy and adds an extra weight which has to be held for a long period of time.

WiTP is also not attached to a specific controller which case that they could be easily misplaced over the factory. Wireless signal is also much more sensitive for electromagnetic interference which could be a serious problem in body-shop because welding guns generate a very strong electromagnetic field.

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