Press Release

NSK Develops a Wide-Area, High-Speed Proximity Sensor

Improved Safety for Production Equipment and Robots

NSK Ltd. (NSK; Headquarters: Tokyo, Japan; President and CEO: Toshihiro Uchiyama) today announced that it has developed a proximity sensor that quickly detects the distance to and location of objects over a wide area.

NSK will exhibit this new sensor at the International Robot Exhibition 2015 to be held at Tokyo Big Sight (Koto-ku, Tokyo) from Wednesday, December 2 to Saturday, December 5, aiming to further explore the needs of the market.

Development Background

In recent years, there has been an increase in focus on industrial robots that can work in cooperation with people. In Japan, the Industrial Safety and Health Act and regulations regarding the use of robots have been relaxed to permit robots that do not exceed 80 watts of power to work side by side with production line workers under certain conditions. With these changes, there is a greater need for sensors that can quickly detect across a wide area, without any blind spots.

The response speed of NSK's new proximity sensor is five times faster* than conventional sensors due to the superior features listed below. As a result of this speed, robots are capable of reliably detecting when people approach, making it possible to slow down and stop prior to making contact with people, for improved safety.

*: Based on NSK's findings compared to those of conventional, general image and laser sensors.

Product Features

The new product uses an array of infrared LED sensors on a Flexible Printed Circuit (FPC) to quickly detect the distance to and location of objects over a wide area. It employs an FPC to make it usable in a variety of shapes of robot arms and for easier assembly on production lines. It has a blind spot-free detection range from 0 to 300 mm, whereby making situational controls possible for adjusting robot speeds and stopping robot movement as necessary.

Possible Applications

  • Robots (FA, service)
  • Factory productions lines
  • Automated guided vehicles in factories
Possible Applications