ABB and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, both global leading players in industrial automation and robotics, have developed the world’s first common collaborative robot operating interface.
The new technology is being showcased at automatica in Munich, Germany this week.
The common interface will help to address the shortage of skilled workers in many industries.
Demand for collaborative robots (cobots) has outpaced the rapidly-growing industrial robot market, as easier-to-use robots open doors to new users.
The fact that collaborative robots can be programmed and operated by people without specialised training is a big plus for SMEs.
Collaborative robots that can be operated by nearly any user can help offset labour shortages. In Japan, one person in five is within a decade of retirement.
Their flexibility to work nearly anywhere in a factory without safety barriers also makes them ideal for meeting sudden and unexpected demand peaks.
Flexibility and scalability
“The new state-of-the-art, industry-standard operating interface will accelerate the already rapid growth we see in collaborative robots,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of Robotics for ABB. “It will give many new manufacturers flexibility and scalability, while providing more interesting jobs for the world’s vital industrial workforce.”
The interface is a result of the collaboration between ABB and Kawasaki announced late last year. The companies share knowledge and promote the benefits of collaborative automation, in particular dual-arm collaborative robots.
The collaboration includes a simplified human-robot interface with intuitive, smartphone-like navigation and icons.
Yasuhiko Hashimoto, Managing Executive Officer and President of the Precision Machinery and Robot Company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd., said: “We are proud to take this first big step together with ABB and it is entirely appropriate that we usher in a new age of collaboration automation with a collaborative approach. Collaborative robots will make a large contribution to society in making manufacturing more flexible and efficient and in keeping our factories productive with an increasingly scarcer workforce.”
Common safety standards
The joint collaborative automation demonstration at automatica included Kawasaki’s unique and innovative Dual-Arm SCARA Robot “duAro” working together with ABB’s dual-arm YuMI® robot.
The collaboration also focuses on other topics such as common safety standards.
Traditional industrial safety standards are based on years of practice, supported by very specific parameters.
The goal for collaborative automation is to develop safety standards which ensure worker safety, while allowing for new ways of man and machines working together.