World’s Strongest Robot Is a Useful Manufacturing & Equipment Handling Tool

Image credit: Fanuc Robotics (screenshot of official promotional material)

Image credit: Fanuc Robotics (screenshot of official promotional material)

With their capabilities often exaggerated and dramatized, robots tend to be associated with science fiction. They are represented as androids, militarized heavy machines, assistive mechanized exoskeletons, or multi-skilled little helpers. But are these cinematic representations of robots realistic? Are they really that strong to be able to do what they are depicted to be doing in the movies?

Apparently, robots can indeed be strong. Earlier this month, a Japanese robotics and automation company, FANUC, introduces what it claims to be the world’s strongest robot. This robot is capable of lifting up to 1.7 tons of load, breaking all previous weightlifting records set by other robots. So to answer the question posed on the title, the world’s current strongest robot—actually a range of robots— is in Japan, most likely working at some factory handling heavy materials and aiding processes in the automotive industry. In 2007, the distinction for the world’s strongest robot was claimed by KUKA Roboter through its KUKA Titan model, which has a payload capacity of 1,000 kg. The crown now belongs to FANUC’s M-2000iA/1700L.

M-2000iA/1700L – The Claims

The “world’s strongest robot,” according to FANUC, is their M-2000iA/1700L model. It is an upgraded version of their M-2000iA line that used to have a maximum capacity of only 1,350 kg. However, before you argue that it may not really be technically the strongest robot in the world, it should be emphasized that the official word from FANUC’s representatives is that it is “the world’s largest and strongest six-axis robot.” This is according to Rich Meyer, product manager of FANUC Robotics. It is not the strongest among all other robots. Obviously, there are even bigger robots that can easily lift over 1.7 tons of payload. The M-2000iA/1700L is simply the most powerful six-axis robot (a type of robot useful for lifting loads in factories or facilities). Additionally, it has “the longest reach and strongest wrist” for a robot of its kind.

M-2000iA/1700L – The Specs

Unfortunately, FANUC has not released official specs for this robot. Its official website still lists the M-2000iA/1200 as its strongest six-axis robot. However, based on its video demonstration and the specs of its predecessors, it’s safe to say that the M-2000iA/1700L is still going to weigh significantly heavier than the things it will be lifting. The M-2000iA/1200, for example, weighs 8,600 kg but can only manage a payload of 1,350 kg. It is also big and relatively slow. The top arm speed is only 70 inches per second. M-2000iA/1700L appears to be just as big as its immediate predecessor although its reach has already been increased to 4.7 meters.

The entire M-2000iA line of robots is intended for assembly line, machining, loading, material removal, and part transfer purposes.

Image credit: Fanuc Robotics (screenshot of official promotional material)

Image credit: Fanuc Robotics (screenshot of official promotional material)

Is This Robot Impressive Enough?

This post does not really intend to highlight the M-2000iA/1700L as something of a technological marvel. Instead, the goal here is to show two things: that much technological progress is still needed for machines to match the marvels of nature and that it’s still going to take a lot of time before the strength and agility of robots in science fiction movies can be made into reality. This post was created basically as a somewhat mocking response to the aggressive pitching being done by FANUC or its marketing contractor, as the company hypes up the less than impressive (for most ordinary people) 1.7-ton payload capacity of the M-2000iA/1700L. One story about the M-2000iA/1700L even exaggeratedly described the robot as something that appears to be defying gravity.

Ideally, the robots of today should be light but powerful. The technology employed in the bionic tentacle featured on this blog earlier can be integrated to achieve a light but strong body. The video of the supposed strongest robot of the world leaves a lot to be desired. It’ a boring sight of bulky yellow machine that is lifting something that is even smaller than half its size. Technology still has a lot of catching up to do to match the strength of the world’s strongest insect, the Onthophagus taurus. The Onthophagus taurus, a species of horned dung beetle, is capable of pulling something that is 1,141 times its own body weight. Well, pulling is different from lifting but you should be able to get the drift. Being able to pull something that is over a thousand times heavier is certainly more impressive than a bulky robot that can only manage to lift something that is less than a quarter of its own weight.