Cameras flashed in the crowd, back when Michael Jordan made a spectacular dunk. At NPE2012, the same thing happened when four Wittmann robots played basketball — dribbling, passing and shooting the ball through a basket, even hitting long, 3-point shots.
Crowds lingered in the aisle, cell-phone cameras at the ready, waiting patiently until one of the robots made a basket.
A three-man team from Wittmann Battenfeld Inc. spent a total of about 80 hours programming the four beam robots: Ken Pond, national field service manager; and robot field engineers Jeff Karagianes and Chris Werner.
The display was like a high school robot competition on steroids. Rock music blared while the robots made their moves. They rarely missed a basket.
Wittmann Battenfeld made special end-of-arm tooling to hold the balls. Pond said the crew laid out the wooden basketball court at company headquarters in Torrington, Conn. The team numbered all the boards, shipped them to Orlando and rebuilt them in the Orange County Convention Center's West Hall.
You might not need a robot basketball team, but Matt McCabe, national key accounts manager, said the standard Wittmann robots, which are equipped with computer numerical controls, can handle plastic parts too.
“This is full, open-architecture CNC programming,” McCabe said.