A Cobot or Co-Robot (from collaborative robot) is a Robot intended to physically interact with human beings in a shared workspace.
Patented technology lets operators with no programming experience quickly set up and operate our cobots with intuitive, 3D visualization. Simply move the robot arm to desired waypoints or touch the arrow keys on the easy-to-use touchscreen tablet.
Universal Robots has revolutionized cobot set-up, reducing typical robotic deployment measured in weeks to a matter of hours. The average set-up time reported by our customers is only half a day. The out-of-box experience for an untrained operator to unpack the cobot, mount it, and program the first simple task is typically less than an hour.
Don’t be limited by dedicated robotics. Universal Robots are lightweight, space-saving, and easy to re-deploy to multiple applications without changing your production layout. Moving the cobot to new processes is fast and easy, giving you the agility to automate almost any manual task, including those with small batches or fast change-overs. The cobot is able to re-use programs for recurrent tasks.
Collaborative & Safe
Now you can replace human operators in dirty, dangerous, and dull jobs to reduce repetitive strain and accidental injuries. Eighty percent of the thousands of UR robots worldwide operate with no safety guarding (after risk assessment), right beside human operators. The safety system of our robots is approved and certified by TÜV (The German Technical Inspection Association).
Collaborative robots or mobile cobots, will be highly productive automated systems for the right applications. It may soon be not only known for their ease of programming and safety controls with part picking/placing and machine tending, but also for their ability to pick up and transport payloads around the shop floor, among human workers, completely autonomously.
That’s the idea behind such robots as Otto Motors’ Otto 100 and 1500 models, which are primarily designed for material handling, but are being developed for other applications as well.
Intended to carry palletized loads, these robotic vehicles can autonomously map their surroundings for safe, intelligent pathfinding through a facility. Basically, these robots adapt technology similar to the kind seen in Google’s self-driving cars, but for indoor, industrial applications. In fact, Director of Industrial Solutions Simon Drexler says that Otto Motors “is on trend to have more autonomous miles driven than the Google driverless car.” Early adoption of the Otto concept by customers like GE and John Deere is expected to put more self-driving vehicles (SDVs) in manufacturing and distribution facilities by the end of 2016 than Google will have on outdoor roads.
In the video below, the Otto 100 (with 100-kg payload) carries a light shelving unit, while the Otto 1500 (with 1,500-kg payload) uses its lift configuration to dock with a pallet for transport.
Forming a “Mental Map” for Safe, Autonomous Navigation
Just as human beings receive data about their environment and form a “mental map” to find their way, these self-driving vehicles take in data using their laser scanners and form a map for autonomous navigation. According to the company, it’s as easy as taking the robot for an initial walk around a facility (which means manually controlling the robot). The Otto 1500 uses two LiDAR sensors (one on the front and one on the rear) to scan the environment as it goes. “Once it has that reference map, it can freely navigate from any origin to any destination inside of the mapped parameters,” says Drexler. This initial reference map is uploaded to the Clearpath App, enabling users to update, edit and track it. Additional Otto robots use the same map, meaning the initial scanning process need only be performed once.
The Clearpath OS is said to enable the robots to move about using only their onboard sensors, eliminating the need for any magnetic tape, beacons or additional infrastructure. The same scanners that build the reference map can also identify objects and people, enabling the robot to safely stop before obstacles and dynamically figure out alternate paths to reach its destination. The Dispatch App, which enables path editing for repeated tasks as well as on-the-fly task dispatch, can be set up on a PC or tablet. The interface centrally manages a shop’s entire Otto fleet, providing a point-and-click, drag-and-drop platform for robot orders.
The Otto robots carry a NTB 56 safety certification and are designed with the idea that these will serve as a form of mobile collaborative robot, not just a point-A-to-point-B currier. Drexler says that one of its automotive customers has certified its robots for navigation on the same paths as its human workers: “Rather than treating [the robot] like a vehicle or a fork truck, they’re treating it like a member of the workforce so it can navigate and move around its human partners.”
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