AUTOMATION: Cobot Adds a 7th Axis

In what it calls a first iteration collaborative 7th axis, Universal Robots (UR) showcased one of its 6-axis robot arms mounted to a linear actuator in a faux machine-tending display at Plastec West.

Related Topics:

Related Suppliers

The Danish maker of collaborative robots (cobots), with U.S. headquarters in Ann Arbor, Mich., displayed a UR robot arm mounted to a Festo seventh axis linear actuator at the February show in Anaheim.

A Universal Robots USA, Inc. spokesperson said the company collaborated with automation technology supplier Festo and safeguard detection supplier SICK Sensor Intelligence to create the operational mock up. In most cases, Universal Robots noted that a 7-axis setup of this style, traversing between machines, would require caging and communication of hard safety lines, including a lot of “handshakes” between the disparate pieces of equipment.

In this set up, a SICK area scanner detects the presence of people and slows down the robot’s movements at one distance, with the ability to completely stop the traversing automation if people get too close. True to the flexible nature of UR’s automation, the entire setup was mounted on casters, enabling it to be wheeled to different cells in a plant and repurposed as needed.

In a release, UR western region sales manager, Craig Tomita said, “We see a collaborative robot as a tool on demand as needed—one that can quickly be transitioned between a wide variety of automated tasks. Flexibility in manufacturing involves ability to deal with variation in volumes, design and material handling as well as variations in the process sequences.”

At the show, the 7-axis display ran alongside a glue-dispensing application from UR systems integrator SP Manufacturing Solutions. The company also discussed the creation of its online “Academy”. The intention there is to create a free open source development space for the authoring of automation programs, with UR likening it to Apple’s App store. A space where UR users can create and share software for the cobots.