ABB and Kawasaki announce cobot cooperation

ABB Australia Pty Ltd

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017

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ABB and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, two global industrial automation and robot suppliers, have announced that the companies will join forces to share knowledge and promote the benefits of collaborative robots, in particular those with dual-arm designs. The global cooperation will become effective immediately.

Under the new cooperation, which is the world’s first to focus on ‘cobots’, both robot makers will continue independently manufacturing and marketing their own offerings while working together on joint technical and awareness opportunities. This includes educating policymakers, NGOs and the general public about the benefits of collaborative automation, and creating common industry approaches to safety, programming and communications.

Collaboration between people and robots, machines and processes is increasingly important as production in many industries has shifted from larger lots with little variation to low volumes with a high mix. This means more variability and more human intervention. Collaborative automation allows people and robots to each contribute their unique strengths — people offer process knowledge, insight and improvisation for change, while robots offer tireless endurance for repetitive tasks.

“The scale and pace of change in the robotics industry today is unimaginable,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, managing director of ABB’s Robotics business. “Beyond the technologies behind collaborative automation, there is also a need for innovative new ways of working together and creating common industry approaches to safety, programming and communications.”

“Collaborative robots, especially those with two arms capable of human interactions, can greatly contribute to society and help the world cope with labour shortages and an ageing workforce,” said Yasuhiko Hashimoto, managing executive officer and general manager, Kawasaki Robot Division. “We see high potential in expanding collaborative applications and processes where people and technology work together to create solutions.

“I’m very pleased that ABB and Kawasaki are joining forces to lead the drive for more user-friendly, advanced collaborative automation.”

ABB is recognised as a pioneer in collaborative automation through its YuMi dual-arm robot. The YuMi robot makes it possible for people and robots to safely share common tasks such as assembling small electronics. Kawasaki is offering its dual-arm SCARA robot ‘duAro’, which has been developed based on extensive application know-how and which can safely collaborate with humans in the workplace.

The first output from this cooperation will be a collaborative dual-arm robot demonstration at IREX, to be held in Tokyo, Japan, from 29 November to 2 December 2017.

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