KUKA is a German manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation. It is owned by the Chinese company Midea Group.[3].

Traded asFWBKU2
HeadquartersAugsburg, Bavaria, Germany
Key people
Peter Mohnen (CEO and chairman of the executive board) [1]
ProductsIndustrial robots, automated production lines
Revenue€3.5 billion (2017)[2]
€102.7 million (2017)[2]
€47.9 million (2017)[2]
Total assets€2,640.1 million (end 2017)[2]
Total equity€866.6 million (end 2017)[2]
OwnerMidea Group
Number of employees
14,256 (end 2017)[2]

The KUKA Robotics Corporation has 25 subsidiaries worldwide, mostly sales and service subsidiaries, including in the United States, Australia, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, India, Russia[4] and most European countries. The company name, KUKA, is an acronym for Keller und Knappich Augsburg.


The company was founded in 1898 by Johann Josef Keller and Jacob Knappich

The company was founded in 1898 in Augsburg, Germany, by Johann Josef Keller and Jacob Knappich. At first, the company focused on house and street lights, but soon expanded to other products (welding equipment and solutions; big containers), to become the market leader in public vehicles in Europe by 1966. Keller & Knappich GmbH merged with part of Industrie-Werke Karlsruhe AG to become Industrie-Werke Karlsruhe Augsburg Aktiengesellschaft, eventually KUKA (Keller und Knappich Augsburg) for short.

In 1973, KUKA created its own industrial robot FAMULUS.[5][6] At that time, the company belonged to the Quandt group. However, in 1980, the Quandt family withdrew and a publicly owned firm was established. In 1995, the company was split into KUKA Robotics Corporation and KUKA Schweißanlagen (now KUKA Systems), now both subsidiaries of KUKA AG. The company is a member of the Robotics Industries Association (RIA), of the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) and the German engineering association VDMA. Today, KUKA concentrates on solutions for the automation of industrial manufacturing processes.

In June 2016, Midea Group offered to buy Kuka for about €4.5 billion ($5 billion). Midea completed the takeover bid in January 2017 by taking 74.55% voting stake in the company.[7]

Most robots are finished in "KUKA Orange" (the official corporate color) or black.

Corporate dataEdit

The company is headquartered in Augsburg, Germany. As of December 2014, KUKA employed more than 13,000 workers.[8] While previously emphasizing customers in the automotive industry, the company has since expanded to other industries.

Notable milestonesEdit

1971 – Europe's first welding transfer line built for Daimler-Benz.

1973 – The world's first industrial robot with six electromechanically driven axes, known as FAMULUS.

1976 – IR 6/60 – A utterly new robot type with six electromechanically driven axes and an offset wrist.

1989 – A new generation of industrial robots is developed – brushless drive motors for a low maintenance and a higher technical availability.

2004 - The first Cobot KUKA LBR 3 is released. This computer controlled lightweight robot is able to interact directly with humans without safety fences and was the result of a collaboration with the German Aerospace Center institute since 1995.[9]

2007 – KUKA Titan – at the time, the biggest and strongest industrial robot with six axes, entered into the Guinness Book of World Records.[10]

2010 – As the only robot family, the robot series KR QUANTEC completely covers the load range of 90 up to 300 kg with a reach of up to 3100 mm for the first time.

2012 – The new small robot series KR AGILUS is launched.

2014 – With a video released in March, the company gained some recognition with the general public. The video supposedly teased their new robot, specialized in Table Tennis and shows a match against Timo Boll, a German professional. It is however not a real match but a commercial with heavy CGI and the video received strong criticism from the table tennis community. The video has been viewed over 10 million times on YouTube and has won numerous awards.[11]

System information and application areasEdit

Spot welding in the automotive industry
Palletizing food in a bakery
Flat-glass handling, heavy duty robot with 1,000 kg payload
Foundry automation with a heat-resistant robot

System informationEdit

The KUKA system software is the operating software and the heart of the entire control. In it, all basic functions are stored which are needed for the deployment of the robot system.

Robots come with a control panel(the KCP, or KUKAControlPanel), also known as a teach pendant, that has a display and axis control buttons for A1-A6, as well an integrated 6D mouse, with which the robot can be moved in manual(teaching) mode. The pendant also allows the user to view and modify existing programs, as well as create new ones. To manually control the axes, an enabling switch(also called a dead man's switch) on the back of the pendant must be pressed halfway in for motion to be possible. The connection to the controller is a proprietary video interface and CAN bus for the safety interlock system and button operation.

A rugged computer located in the control cabinet communicates with the robot system via the MFC,[12] which controls the real-time servo drive electronics. Servo position feedback is transmitted to the controller through the so-called DSE-RDW/RDC[13] connection. The DSE[14] board is in the control cabinet, usually located on or integrated into the MFC, the RDW/RDC board in located in the base of the robot.

The software comprises two elements running simultaneously - the user interface and program storage, which is run on Windows 95 for KRC1 and early KRC2 controllers, Windows XP Embedded for KRC2 controllers, and Windows 7 Embedded for KRC4 controllers, as well as VxWin,[15] a KUKA-modified version of the VxWorks real-time OS for program control and motion planning, which communicates to the MFC.[12]

The systems also contain standard PC peripherals, such as a CD-ROM drive(or 3.5" floppy on older controllers), USB ports, as well as a standard interface, either ISA or PCI/PCIe, for adding software and hardware options for industrial automation, such as Profibus, Interbus, DeviceNet and Profinet, and others.

Application areasEdit

The industrial robots are used in many application areas, such as material handling, loading, and unloading of machines, palletizing and depalletizing, spot and arc welding. They are used in some large companies, predominantly in the automotive industry, but also in other industries such as the aerospace industry. Specific applications include:

  • Transport industry: for the transport of heavy loads, where their load capacity and free positioning are used.
  • Food and beverage industry: for tasks such as loading and unloading of packaging machines, cutting meat, stacking and palletizing, and quality control.
  • Construction industry: e.g., for ensuring an even flow of material.
  • Glass industry: used, for instance in the thermal treatment of glass and quartz glass in laboratory glass production, bending and forming operations.
  • Foundry and forging industry: the robots' heat and dirt resistance enable them to be used directly before, in and on the casting machines. They can also be used for operations such as deburring, grinding, or drilling, and for quality control.
  • Wood industry: for grinding, milling, drilling, sawing, palletizing or sorting applications.
  • Metal processing: for operations such as drilling, milling, sawing or bending and punching. Industrial robots are used in welding, assembly, loading and unloading processes.
  • Stone processing: the ceramic and stone industries use the industrial robots for bridge sawing

KUKA EntertainmentEdit

In 2001, KUKA formed a partnership with RoboCoaster Ltd to develop the world's first passenger-carrying industrial robot. The ride uses roller coaster-style seats attached to robotic arms and provides a roller coaster-like motion sequence through a series of programmable maneuvers. Riders themselves can also program the motions of their ride. A second generation system, the RoboCoaster G2, was deployed at Universal's Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando, Florida in 2010, in conjunction with Dynamic Structures. Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey's seats are mounted on robotic arms, which are in turn mounted on a track allowing the arms to travel through the attraction while performing their movements in synchronization with the ride's show elements (animated props, projection surfaces, etc.).[16][17][18][19]

KUKA's partnership with RoboCoaster has also seen KUKA robots appear in some Hollywood films. In the James Bond film Die Another Day, in a scene depicting an ice palace in Iceland, NSA agent Jinx, played by Halle Berry, is threatened by laser-wielding robots. In the Ron Howard film The Da Vinci Code, a KUKA robot hands Tom Hanks’ character Robert Langdon a container containing a cryptex.

In 2007, KUKA introduced a simulator, based on the Robocoaster.[20] RoboCoaster Ltd does not market this product. An installation of this version is The Sum Of All Thrills ride at EPCOT in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.

In recent years, KUKA robotic arms can be found on Royal Caribbean cruise liners at their bionic bars. The user selects their desired drink or creates a custom one on a tablet interface. The robotic arms then use an array of spirits, mixers and liqueurs to accurately and precisely craft the desire cocktail.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Till Reuter terminates his office as CEO in December in agreement with the supervisory board – Peter Mohnen takes over and ensures continuity". KUKA. Retrieved 2018-12-24.
  2. ^ a b c d e f "Annual Report 2017". KUKA. Retrieved 2018-07-15.
  3. ^ "China's Midea Has 86% of Robot-Maker in $4.4 Billion Bid". Bloomberg.com. 20 July 2016.
  4. ^ "KUKA in Russia". Retrieved 2013-07-31.
  5. ^ Company history located on the KUKA Robotics Homepage
  6. ^ "History of Industrial Robots" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2012-12-24. Retrieved 2012-10-27.
  7. ^ "China's Midea receives U.S. green light for Kuka takeover". Reuters. 2016-12-30.
  8. ^ "Annual Report 2016" (PDF). KUKA. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2016-01-14. Retrieved 2018-01-28.
  9. ^ "History of the DLR LWR". 2018-03-17.
  10. ^ Guinness World Records Ltd. (Hrsg.): Guinness World Records 2007. Bibliographic Institute, Mannheim, 2007. ISBN 978-3411140770
  11. ^ Press Release from 12 May 2015, Retrieved August 6th, 2015
  12. ^ a b Multi Function Card
  13. ^ Resolver Digital Converter
  14. ^ Digital Servo Electronics
  15. ^ "VxWin - Windows real-time platform". Retrieved 17 April 2019.
  16. ^ Harry Potter World Orlando (March 22, 2010). """Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" Attraction Details"". Harry Potter World Orlando. Retrieved 2014-01-24.
  17. ^ Kuka Entertainment. "Kuka Entertainment - Robocoaster". Kuka Entertainment. Archived from the original on August 7, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  18. ^ Kuka Industrial Robots. "Kuka Industrial Robots - Robocoaster". Kuka Industrial Robots. Archived from the original on May 30, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  19. ^ Robocoaster (March 22, 2010). "Large & Theme Park Solutions". Robocoaster. Retrieved June 29, 2010.
  20. ^ "KUKA Entertainment 4D Simulator". Retrieved 2008-01-11.

External linksEdit