Drive concepts

General information

Service robots used in domestic, public or industrial environments often have to be mobile in order to execute their tasks. The choice of drive concept has a major impact on a robot’s ability to maneuver and remain stable as it moves over uneven terrain. The following features are also required:

  • Sufficient power reserves
  • Compact and lightweight drive solution
  • Low cost realization

Expertise and sample projects

For many years now, Fraunhofer IPA has been working on the development of mobile robot platforms for domestic and industrial applications. One focus is on omnidirectional drives to enable a robot to turn on the spot and to move sidewards. Even in narrow, cramped environments, robots with an omnidirectional drive module can reach destinations without having to make cumbersome maneuvers. Besides developing omnidirectional drive modules for easy integration into robot platforms, Fraunhofer IPA also concerns itself with optimizing drive controls.

The patented “Quirl” drive developed at Fraunhofer IPA is a compact drive system for climbing robots. Instead of using wheels, two or more disks are positioned flat on the robot’s surface. Drive forces are created according to the disks’ direction of rotation, which enable the robot to glide over a surface. This surface contact makes the “Quirl” drive particularly suitable for use in cleaning robots, such as those for cleaning windows.


Fraunhofer IPA helps you select and develop drive concepts for your mobile application. We offer the following services:

  • Advice on the selection and design of drives and mobile platforms
  • Feasibility studies
  • Construction of application-specific drive solutions
  • Prototype development

rob@work 3: Omnidirektionale Antriebsmodule