KUKA Controls Unveils EtherCAT Drivers for Real-Time Control Systems

12/5/2005 - KUKA Controls, a leading developer of real-time operating system solutions for Windows® XP in conjunction with its partner, Acontis Technologies, announced AT-ECAT/embedded, a portable EtherCAT master stack for embedded operating systems. In combination with KUKA Controls' real-time extensions, CeWin® and VxWin®, AT-ECAT/embedded enables the use of a standard Windows platform as EtherCAT master in a deterministic EtherCAT fieldbus network. The EtherCAT master stack AT-ECAT/embedded from Acontis has been specially optimized for use in embedded operating systems. The major advantage for users is that the operating systems, VxWorks and Windows CE, will innately support a large number of network cards which can be used with the AT-ECAT/embedded master without modifications or the need for special drivers. The new Acontis EtherCAT master stack further extends KUKA Controls' position as a technology leader in the industrial automation market.

AT-ECAT/embedded supports all the protocols defined in the EtherCAT specification, such as cyclic process data communication, mailbox communication, CANOpen-Over-EtherCAT protocol, and Filetransfer-Over-EtherCAT protocol. Because the AT-ECAT/embedded master is 100% compatible with standard Ethernet hardware, customers can quickly extend their range of EtherCAT products. The implementation of AT-ECAT/embedded makes CeWin or VxWin-based systems the ideal solution for an EtherCAT fieldbus.

The "downward scalability" of KUKA Controls' real-time systems is particularly advantageous when operating a Windows CE or VxWorks control system even on a small embedded system, because these extensions make it possible to add a high-end Windows XP graphical solution on the existing single x86 computer without adding additional hardware. KUKA Controls' real-time extensions VxWin 3.1 and CeWin 3.3 allow real-time operating systems, VxWorks and Windows CE respectively, to coexist with Windows XP on a single CPU. Both Windows XP and the RTOS operate with complete "out-of-the box" functionality, as the extensions do not modify either OS and no adjustments of any kind are required. Particularly useful is the ability to use all the network cards supported by Windows CE or VxWorks. In contrast to proprietary real-time extensions, these cards can be used without any modification, thanks to the combination of a standard operating system (VxWorks/Windows CE) with Windows XP.

"Outstanding performance combined with low costs and broad availability are crucial for the high acceptance of the EtherCAT technology. Solutions such as EtherCAT master AT-ECA/embedded emphasize this: One software base supporting multiple operation systems, no special hardware for the master is needed. This product reveals that EtherCAT helps to realize high-performance scalable systems." (Martin Rostan, Executive Director, EtherCAT Technology Group)

KUKA Controls' real-time software extensions are distributed worldwide and are deployed in Aerospace, Automation, Defense, Medical and Test & Measurement applications. The company is a Microsoft Gold Level Windows Embedded Partner (WEP) and a Wind River Platform Partner. These long-term relationships provide smooth integration of the latest OS updates and assure customers of the necessary long-term platform stability. KUKA Controls also certifies third-party hardware compatibility to simplify development of new real-time applications.

About EtherCAT
EtherCAT puts at the user's disposal, a communication technology that matches the superior processing capacity of modern industrial PCs. As a result, 1,000 randomly distributed digital I/Os can be polled in 30Ás, 200 analog values in 50Ás and 100 axes in 100Ás. In this period, all the axes are provided with set values and control data, and report their actual position and status. EtherCAT is ideally suited for PC-based control technology. The open technology is supported by EtherCAT Technology Group as well as by an international association of manufacturers and users with over 140 member companies.

About KUKA Controls GmbH
KUKA Controls GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of KUKA Roboter GmbH, the number one European industrial robot manufacturer and a part of IWKA AG Group. KUKA Controls specializes in real-time software, operating systems, motion control, graphical user interfaces (GUI), handhelds, dynamic algorithms, PC-based hardware development and application programming. KUKA Controls globally markets real-time extension technology for automation and robotics as well as test and measurement instrumentation and medical devices and equipment. KUKA robot controllers are developed and produced for the parent company.

About KUKA Roboter GmbH
KUKA Roboter GmbH, Augsburg is an IWKA Group company and is the worlds' leading manufacturer of PC-based industrial robots. The company's core competencies are the development, production and sales of industrial robots, controllers, software and linear units. KUKA is the market leader in both Germany and Europe and ranks 3rd worldwide. The KUKA Robot Group employs 1.650 people and is represented by over 20 subsidiaries in Europe, USA and Asia. In 2003, company sales were 420 million Euros.

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