As leaders of global society gathered at the recent 2019 World Economic Forum (WEF), in Davos, Switzerland, it seemed only fitting that a representative of the future should be serving people coffee in the Garden Lounge – YuMi the cobot.
YuMi, considered the world’s first truly collaborative robot, was introduced by Swedish-Swiss engineering conglomerate ABB in 2015.
Since then, it has made quite a few appearances at worldwide events to showcase its abilities.
This includes complex tasks such as operating a coffee machine in less than 90 seconds, including removing the capsule, as well as performing a little dance between making cups of coffee.
“Our CEO wanted something fun,” said Benoit Gerber, ABB product manager.
Putting fun aside, YuMi’s appearance was a prime example of some of the priorities and agendas shaping the future of the world that participants discussed at the event, especially the effects of automation and labor shortages. Cobots are a viable, safe option for many companies because they are designed to work alongside people without requiring safety cages or barriers.
YuMi, for example, has a many functions and safety features. Its dual-armed, lightweight design includes motion control software, padded arms and no pinch points.
It is a complete assembly solution that can be equipped with part-feeding systems and various grippers, which happen to be 3D printed.
Also, 2D or 3D vision options can be integrated into the robot.
Working next to humans
The incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) and ease of programming are other benefits companies get when choosing to add a cobot into the mix.
AI-based systems “learn” as they go through continual feedback, making them better at anticipating tasks and working next to humans. Many of them, like YuMi, were designed for easy setup so that even people without specialized training can set them up.
While the YuMi at WEF made an impact on current leaders, ABB also uses its series of YuMis garner attention from future world shapers. The company showcases it at schools and colleges to demonstrate to students the possibilities of cobot technology.
“Robots as a whole are always captivating to watch, and always manage to draw a crowd, yet YuMi always seems to be particularly popular,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, ABB managing director of robotics.
“From young children to seasoned manufacturing experts, YuMi is helping people of all ages to understand the important and increasing role robots will play in our future.”