Friday, March 17, 2006

Smart Floors Tell Robots Where to Go

Hamlin, March 2006 - After over three years of targeted research, Vorwerk Teppichwerke from Hamlin, Germany has successfully developed the first "smart floor" to series-production capability.
A textile underlay, the "smart floor" is equipped with electronic Radio Frequency IDentification (RFID) microchips and can be installed beneath nearly all suitable floor coverings.
"Smart floor" is the first product to be realised from the ongoing research project "thinking carpet" begun in 2003. That project has been run by Vorwerk jointly with chip manufacturer Infineon towards developing intelligent supplementary functions for textile floor coverings.
A co-operation partner, InMach Intelligente Maschinen GmbH from Ulm, Germany, designs intelligent robots for everyday service tasks such as cleaning work or transporting goods and persons.

The basis of the "smart floor" is a network consisting of RFID microchip "tags" which have been integrated into a polyester weave.
Each RFID tag within the network can be electromagnetically enscribed and read out. The tag is thus able to not only transmit locational co-ordinates to a robot, it can also store data.

Each of the RFID chip tags has its own ID number which can be detected and identified by an RFID reader via wireless data transmission (13.56 MHz) across a distance of 10 centimetres. The power required for this process is supplied exclusively by the robot. The RFID chips themselves are completely passive, meaning that no electrical voltage whatsoever exists on the underlay itself.

The smart-floor technology was demonstrated at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany.

Vorwerk & Co.Teppichwerke GmbH & Co KG


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