Content - ABB and Kawasaki cooperate in “cobot” automation

  • December 01, 2017

ABB and Kawasaki cooperate in “cobot” automation

Tokyo (SCCIJ) - ABB from Switzerland and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, two global industrial automation and robot suppliers, have joined forces to share knowledge and promote the benefits of collaborative robots, in particular those with dual arm designs. It is the world’s first enterprise collaboration that focuses on “cobots”. Such robots can work alongside humans without any safety devices and are considered the future of industrial robots. At the International Robot Exhibition iREX in Tokyo this week, the Swiss company also revealed its latest member of its cobot family YuMi. ABB was the first robot producer ever to bring a cobot to market.

ABB's new one-armed YuMi cobot

Benefits of collaborative automation

Under the new cooperation between ABB and Kawasaki, both robot makers will continue independently manufacturing and marketing their own offerings while working together on joint technical and awareness opportunities. This includes educating policy makers, NGOs and the general public about the benefits of collaborative automation, and creating common industry approaches to safety, programming and communications.  

ABB is recognized as a pioneer in collaborative automation through its YuMi dual arm robot, the world’s first truly collaborative robot. The YuMi robot makes it possible for people and robots to safely share common tasks such as assembling small electronics. Kawasaki is offering a very unique and innovative 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.

First cobot collaboration across borders

The cooperation also represents collaboration across borders, with ABB as Europe’s largest robot supplier and Kawasaki one of Asia’s industrial giants. “The scale and pace of change in the robotics industry today is unimaginable,” said Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of ABB’s Robotics business. “Collaborative robots can help the world cope with labor shortages and an aging workforce,” said Yasuhiko Hashimoto, Managing Executive Officer and General Manager, Kawasaki Robot Division.  

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.

Per Vegard Nerseth (left) and Sami Atiya of ABB Robotics at the preview of the newest member of the YuMi family at iREX on November 29, 2017 (click to enlarge)

Per Vegard Nerseth (left) and Sami Atiya of ABB Robotics at the preview of the newest member of the YuMi family at iREX on November 29, 2017 (click to enlarge)

ABB’s first one-armed cobot at IREX unveiled

The first output from this cooperation was a collaborative dual arm robot demonstration at three booths at the International Robot Exhibition IREX, the world’s largest fair for robot and automation technology running from November 29 to December 2. ABB used the IREX to unveil its newest collaborative robot which has a single arm and a much smaller footprint. It will be officially launched in 2018. Like the two-armed YuMi cobot, it features lead-through programming, eliminating the need for specialized training for operators.  

“YuMi was originally designed for small-parts assembly, but it has turned out to be exceptionally versatile – it can solve a Rubik’s Cube, make sushi, wrap gifts and conduct an orchestra,” said Sami Atiya, President of ABB’s Robotics and Motion division. “Based on YuMi’s enormous success, we fully expect our new single-arm robot to be equally well-received, especially since it was developed at the request of customers.” Combining this robot with the ABB digital solutions will allow customers to take efficiency and reliability in their factories to the next level.  

About ABB Robotics

ABB Robotics is a pioneer in industrial and collaborative robots and advanced digital services. As one of the world’s leading robotics suppliers, the enterprise is active in 53 countries and over 100 locations and has shipped over 300,000 robot solutions in a diverse range of industries and applications.  

About Kawasaki Robotics

Kawasaki Robotics has shipped 170,000 robots in about 50 countries. As a pioneer in Japan, Kawasaki celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017. As one of the world’s leading robotics suppliers, the company is now transforming itself from an industrial to a fully integrated robot supplier.    


Text: SCCIJ with material of ABB; Photos: Martin Fritz for SCCIJ

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