Universal Robots Unveils New 20kg Payload Cobot

June 21, 2022
Universal Robots redesigned its collaborative robot technology to create the UR20—its longest reach and heaviest payload cobot. Target applications include palletizing and packaging.

Universal Robots’ collaborative robots (cobots) are well-recognized due to their wide use across industry. The distinct visual look of Universal Robots’ (UR) cobots, while still familiar, has received an update with the release of the company’s new UR20 six-axis cobot.

Features of the UR20 include:

  • A 20kg (44.1lbs.) payload capacity, which is 4kg more than UR’s previous heaviest load capability of 16kg with its UR16e cobot.
  • Reach of 1750mm, which is 450mm more than longest previous UR cobot reach of 1300mm with the UR10e.
  • Weight of the UR20, at 141.1 lbs., is nearly double the heaviest UR cobot, the UR10e, at 73.9 lbs.
  • At 245mm, the footprint of the UR20 is 55mm larger than the footprint of UR’s URe10 or UR316, both of which have a footprint of 190mm.

These changes to the size, reach, and payload capacity of the UR20, compared to other UR cobots, are part of the company’s vision of “making a better work environment for what we call human scale automation,” said Anders Billesø Beck, vice president of strategy and innovation at Universal Robots.

Beck said UR’s focus with its cobots is, ultimately, about reducing or eliminating the repetitive, strenuous work tasks that people must perform. “The first UR cobot—the UR5—was a mimic of a human arm. It could pretty much do the same things that you would do with a single human arm. And we have been adding capacity and reach to the line since then. But we also learned that particular tasks, such as packaging and palletizing, require people to use two arms to carry even more weight. That's where you would need the capabilities of the UR20, which is designed to stack to the full pallet height of European Union and U.S. standard pallets.”

While the exterior changes to the UR20 are minimal yet noticeable, the biggest changes took place in the interior mechanical design.

To carry the heavier payload and deliver the longer reach of the UR20 required UR’s designers to do a “complete mechanical reengineering of the whole UR system concept,” said Beck. “We hardened the design concept and shifted generations on a lot of technologies to deliver way more torque into the same package to reduce weight. This reduction in weight matters a lot to the collaborativeness of the robot because, in the end, it's all about having low momentum to move mass while keeping people safe.”

Beck noted the designers also changed the tool flange diameter for the UR20 due to the requirements of the heavier payload capacity.

With all the mechanical changes introduced by the UR20, Beck pointed out that changes were also necessary to UR’s safety system, though these changes are largely transparent to users. “Our safety system architecture was designed with scalability in mind. So we’ve been able to keep the same experience, look, and feel that our customers are used to.” 

This maintenance of the UR look and feel extends to the setup and programming of the UR20 as well. Beck said the UR20 uses the same user platform as UR’s other cobots and will be updated quarterly according to UR’s standard software update process. “We'll keep updating it with new software, of course, but we'll maintain the existing software base we have,” said Beck. “That will allow all of our users to add the UR20 and deploy solutions right off the bat.”

In keeping with UR cobots’ ease of use, Beck noted that the UR20 can plug into a standard wall socket to receive the power needed for operation and be moved from location to location like UR’s other cobots. The UR20, even though it is UR’s heaviest robot, “is the lightest robot of its kind with this payload and speed,” said Beck. “And you don’t need to create a big concrete foundation for this robot. We've made a lot of advancements to eliminate the need for that, such as an advanced motion and dampening algorithm to provide flexibility and suppress any excess motion.”

In addition to palletizing, Universal Robots said the UR20 can be used for welding, material handling, and machine loading and tending.

The introduction of the UR20 also marks the beginning of UR’s next generation of cobots. Kim Povlsen, president of UR, said, “We’re launching our next generation with this high-payload model first because it will make end-to-end automation a reality for our customers, allowing them to use cobot automation to cover new tasks. The next step in redefining automation will be to bring the same innovative features to a new family of cobots.”

Details on this new family of cobots is still to come.

The UR20 is expected to be available for pre-order in late Q4 2022 and will begin shipping in Q2 2023. 

Watch this video on Universal Robots' and Robotiq's integrated palletizing system showcased at PACK EXPO 2021.

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