Few robots have had the honor of being publicly launched by a German Chancellor. On Monday, the opening day of the fair, Angela Merkel came to the ABB booth to meet YuMi, a two-armed assembly assistant that could open a new era of automation on the factory floor.
We met with Per Vegard Nerseth, ABB Vice President and Head of Business Robotics. “In the future, the collaborative robots will be a significant part of the robotics market,” stated Nerseth.
Per Vegard Nerseth, Head of Business Robotics at ABB presents YuMi
A new generation robot
YuMi, short for You and Me, is a new generation robot designed to safely work hand-in-hand with human workers. Exit the protective fencing that used to separate robots from people. YuMi is equipped with sensors that enable it to see and feel its environment. Its dual arms are soft and padded for smooth interactions. As a result, YuMi and its human companions can interact without any barrier, the former under the surveillance of the latter.
This is good news for industry, since protective cages are often very expensive. Getting rid of them offers interesting economic perspectives, including improving productivity.
Working safely with humans
In addition to being a safe co-worker, YuMi’s movements are accurate. It can precisely manipulate tiny, fragile watch parts, as well as the small components used in mobile phones. In fact, YuMi was first designed for small parts assembly in the electronics industry.
But according to Nerseth, the cobot also has great potential in other fields that require assembling small parts, such as in the chemical industry.
A standard YuMi cobot with gripper, but without other options like the cameras, costs around 40,000 dollars. ABB did not communicate on the price of the vision system which is essential to its cobot.