The past year has been, in many ways, a landmark year for advances in robotics. I say this because many of the predictions made in the past decade or so for industrial robotics started seeing the light of day this year in terms of broad release or public announcements. From truly adaptive robots to robotic research advances that allow robots to interact more easily with humans, 2014 has been a year marked by a great deal of what can truly be called news in the robotics field. (See the list at the end of this story for links to several articles that back up my point.)
And the new announcements are still coming. Most recently, ABB announced that it will debut what it calls “the world’s first truly collaborative robot” in April 2015.
ABB’s new robot, called YuMi (a name designed to convey “you and me”), is a “human-friendly dual arm robot” designed for use in manufacturing tasks such as small parts assembly, where people and robots work hand-in-hand.
According to a release from ABB, YuMi is a collaborative, dual-arm assembly robot with the ability to feel and see. “The robot’s soft, padded arms, combined with innovative force-sensing technology, ensure the safety of YuMi’s human co-workers. Safety is built into the functionality of the robot itself so that it can work cage-free,” says ABB.
YuMi is reportedly capable of handling everything from the delicate and precise parts of a mechanical wristwatch to the components used in mobile phones, tablets and desktop PCs. The accuracy of YuMi’s motion is said to be so precise that it can thread a needle.
“YuMi is going to change many of mankind’s assumptions about manufacturing and industrial processes,” said Pekka Tiitinen, head of ABB’s Discrete Automation and Motion division, “Yumi will open endless possibilities. We are at the start of a very exciting new era for industrial automation.”
The commercial launch of YuMi is scheduled to take place on April 13, 2015, at the Hannover Messe in Germany.
Recent Automation World coverage of robotics advances: