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Universal Robots Earns Game Changer Award in Human-Machine Interaction Category at RoboBusiness

It has just been announced that Universal Robots’ UR5 robot arm will take home Robotics Business Review’s inaugural award for best product in the collaborative class featuring human-friendly design, unique safety features, and user-friendly interfaces.

The UR5 robot was chosen by a panel of distinguished experts from the International Journal of Advanced Robotic Systems and the business and investment community along with Robotics Business Review and Robotics Trends editors to join an exclusive group of products deemed most noteworthy.

CTO and co-founder of Universal Robots, Esben Østergaard, will be receiving the award along with the company’s National Sales Manager in USA and Canada, Ed Mullen, at the industry event RoboBusiness. This is the 14th award the company has won since 2013 and the first in North America.

“To win this kind of recognition in Silicon Valley means the world,” says Østergaard. “We ran in a category competing against some incredible robots, making this award stand out even more.”

Esben Østergaard will share the unique story of Universal Robots with the RoboBusiness audience Thursday Oct. 24 during his presentation Toppling Tradition: Making Robots Small, Cheap, Dexterous, and Friendly.

Ed Mullen attributes a significant part of his company’s success in North America to the UR robots’ ability to make small and medium sized business competitive.

“Our robots address the heart of the ‘reshoring’ debate by optimizing production in companies that would have otherwise lost orders to overseas competitors,” he says. “We’ve succeeded in creating a robot for a market segment that never thought they’d be able to employ a robot due to cost and complexity.”

With the UR5, Universal Robots pioneered user friendly, yet sophisticated, 3D programming via an intuitive tablet interface. This has enabled users with no previous programming experience to quickly set up and operate the UR5 robots allowing the machine operators to be promoted to robot programmers. Training a UR robot to perform a task can easily be done via the arrow keys on the tablet—or by simply grabbing the robot arm to demonstrate desired movement.

“We’re distinctly different because we offer an out-of-box experience in less than an hour. That’s the time it takes to unpack the robot, mount it and program the first tasks,” says Mullen, who has created a network of 16 distributors now providing full coverage of both Canada and USA.

Eighty percent of the more than 2,000 UR robots deployed globally operate with no safety guarding in the immediate vicinity of employees.

“When we started to develop our robotic solution, robots were treated like wild animals—caged up and unable to collaborate with humans. We saw a great opportunity to create a robot that could work directly alongside employees,” says the Universal Robots CTO, Esben Østergaard.

Editor-in-chief of Robotics Business Review, Tom Green, has followed Universal Robots’ ascend in the robotics industry:

“It’s kind of like watching the underdog in a Hollywood movie transforming from a lovable weakling with a great idea into an Iron Man-esque hero for co-robots,” he wrote in a recent article.

Green stresses that every Game Changer Award entry was eminently worthy of an award.

“Every product entered displayed an imaginative concept, innovative engineering, and great practicality,” he says. “Every entry is a marvelous contribution to robotics. All of which made the judging ever so difficult.”

The UR robots

Universal Robots is a result of many years of intensive research in robotics. The product portfolio includes the UR5 and UR10 models that handle payloads of up to 11.3 lbs. and 22.6 lbs. respectively. The six-axis robot arms weigh as little as 40 lbs. with reach capabilities of up to 51 inches. Repeatability of +/- .004” allows quick precision handling of even microscopically small parts.

If the robots come into contact with an employee, the built-in force control limits the forces at contact and does not cause bodily harm, adhering to the current safety requirements on force and torque limitations. In most applications, this safety feature enables the robots to operate with no safety guards after risk assessments have been conducted.

The collaborative robots can quickly be moved around the production sites and are easily integrated in all industries—from the small machine shop to the large auto assembly line. Payback period is typically 3-8 months.


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