May 14, 2011

Rover Supplier - Ono Denki

Ono Denki (denki being Japanese for "electronic") is known well among the Japanese robotic community and has produced several prototypes for leading researchers.

In mid-January 2011 White Label Space asked Ono Denki to produce the suspension sub-assembly of the team's prototype rover, currently under development at Tohoku University's Space Robotics Laboratory. The work was delayed by the Sendai Earthquake which affected certain parts suppliers, but Ono Denki successfully completed hardware by the 11th of April. The final delivery and inspection took place during a visit by WLS Chairman Dr Andrew Barton and Professor Yoshida of Tohoku University, who is responsible for developing the team's rover.

The photo (left) shows the suspension sub-assembly that Ono Denki produced. The body of the rover interfaces to the block in the middle. The rest of the rover prototype is now being integrated and WLS will hold an unveiling ceremony in mid-2011.

Ono Denki was founded in 1938 and has a long history. The company's CEO is Mr. Ono (pictured right). He is the third generation of his family responsible for the business. A key strength of Ono Denki is the capability to support the entire process from design, machining, assembly, board, wiring, and software development all the way through to final testing and evaluation. The company has several engineers specialized in each of those phases. Thanks to the close communication among engineers involved in each process, Ono Denki provides very high quality to its customers.

Ono Denki has also provided space development-related equipment for JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) and many others. In 2010 in an article by Diamond Weekly, a popular business magazine in Japan, Ono Denki's activities in the space industry were highlighted.

A common belief in Japan these days is that that small companies are in danger of disappearing due to a lack of people interested in carrying on the business. This leads to a fear that the nation's technology level will get suffer due to the loss of know-how. However, steady stream of excellent young engineers who are receiving guidance and mentoring from skilled personnel ensures that Ono Denki will continue to thrive into the future.


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