IMTS 2016 Saw North American Launch of Universal Robots+
Universal Robots, the Danish pioneer of human-robot collaboration, launched Universal Robots+, a showroom of plug & play application solutions offering a new level of simplicity for companies that want to hit the ground running when installing their next UR robot application.
The International Manufacturing Technology Show 2016 in Chicago was the North American launch pad for the market leader of collaborative robots’ two unique new initiatives. At the show, the company presented:
- Universal Robots+: By choosing accessories, end-effectors, and software solutions from Universal Robots+, both distributors and end-users get high security and predictability that applications will run well from the start, saving weeks and months in the integration process from concept to operation of the UR cobots.
- +YOU: a unique, free-of-charge developer program, offering a powerful marketing and support platform for the flourishing eco-system of UR-robot application developers.
Both were showcased at IMTS in Chicago, September 12-17, at booth N-6865.
With Universal Robots+, the company creates its own eco-system enabling applications revolving around the collaborative robot arms UR3, UR5 and UR10 to be developed and showcased. The so-called URCaps, accessory components that extend the UR robots’ capabilities, can be customized hardware components, software plug-ins, or a combination of both. The aim of Universal Robots+ is to reduce implementation periods, increase user comfort and reduce costs for all parties involved.
“With Universal Robots+, we create an unmatched Win-Win-Win situation benefitting the developer community, our distribution partners and our end customers,” explains Esben H. Østergaard, CTO and co-founder of Universal Robots. “The participants in the developer program +YOU will receive free support from Universal Robots when developing URCaps. By integrating the URCaps showcased at the Universal Robots+ Showroom, our distribution partners and end users reduce spending on application development and testing when they deploy the URCaps as simple Plug & Play solutions. In short, Universal Robots+ is easy access to efficient, well-proven, and safe automation solutions that we elevate to the next level by collaborating with a crucial component: the developers of today and tomorrow.”
How developers and distributors will benefit
“When a URCap has received our approval for development within Universal Robots+, we will support the developers via our local subsidiaries by providing robots for testing and optimizing URCaps. On request, robots can also be purchased at a reduced price, given that they will be used exclusively for the development and testing of new URCaps,” says Stefan Tøndering Stubgaard, Manager of Universal Robots’ Corporate Technical Support.
After completion of a URCaps prototype, the developer will send it to Universal Robots for examination. Tøndering Stubgaard explains: “Before a new product can be presented in our showroom, we verify its quality. In comprehensive functionality tests, we test whether the application can be implemented and operated easily and if the product conforms to Universal Robots’ quality requirements.”
In addition, developers can also get their URCaps certified by Universal Robots. In order to receive this additional quality certificate, developers must document that their solution is already operating in a real application and used successfully by a customer.
Having URCaps featured in the Universal Robots+ showroom was free of charge for developers. In providing this, Universal Robots offered all developers a professional marketing platform granting them access to an ever expanding, global customer network. Sales of URCaps will continue to be provided through Universal Robots’ established network of distribution partners. In this way, distributors also benefit from this central platform, where they can both offer and access applications developed specifically for the use with UR-robots. Universal Robots+ is the toolbox that tailors the optimal solutions for their individual customer needs.
First URCaps developed
The first approved URCaps developed by the developer community accompanied the Universal Robots+ launch; one new URCap is the Pick & Place image processing solution of Robotiq, the Canadian manufacturer of flexible robot grippers and sensors. Samuel Bouchard, CEO of Robotiq, explains: “The UR robot arms can be equipped with our new camera and vision system and deployed right into assembly within five minutes. There is no need for an external computer to set up, program, or operate the camera. Everything can be done within the robot’s user interface. In developing this solution, we managed to meet the need of Universal Robots and our customers demanding an easier and faster implementation of a camera and vision system that can be deployed by anyone.”
Entering the Universal Robots+ Community
Developers needed only complete a few steps to get their application solutions featured in the Universal Robots+ Showroom. Registration for developers was free in the +YOU community forum where developers can submit their application ideas. In order to become a member of the +YOU community, the following conditions must be met:
Submission of a first draft detailing which type of URCaps is being developed. The following categories of URCaps can be chosen:
- End-effectors: All types of end-of-arm-tooling (EOAT) such as grippers, force-
torque-sensors, screwdrivers, and many more.
- Accessory components: hardware products, which do not belong into the category of end-effectors – for instance, cable guidance, protective covers, communication modules, vision systems, HMI-panels, etc.
- Software: These are either software plug-ins, which have been developed with the URCaps Software Development Kit (SDK), PC programs, for example, for the simulation of robot systems or programming, or UR-Library Plug-ins for the software of third parties such as the PLC programming suite.
- Moreover, the developer needs to offer an established support-service with a response time of maximum 24 hours on week days.
- The developers must present a website with valid contact data.
After verification of the URCaps by Universal Robots, the developers will receive access to the +YOU online forum, where they can exchange questions and ideas. All members of the community will receive access to the company-internal developer support, which will assist (if necessary) in developing a market mature URCaps application. Additionally, the URCaps Software Development Kit can be downloaded free-of-charge.
Software release reduces implementation time
Alongside the launch of Universal Robots+, a new update for the robot arm’s operating software has been published. The new release (Software Version 3.3) includes updates such as the Profinet IO device functionality. The new compatibility with Profinet protocols opens up numerous additional areas of deployment and activities for robots. “A key feature of the update supporting the Universal Robots+ platform is the ability for providers to now offer solutions that interface seamlessly with the UR software,” says Østergaard.
Until now, the software enabling communication between developer applications and the UR robot arms had to be implemented by using relatively complex script code, which is time consuming and a difficult task for the majority of end users to handle. As the Software Version 3.3 now consists in parts of open source software, the developers can implement their software as an add-on, reducing the time needed for implementation at the end customer’s premises significantly, thus reducing both price and potential risks.
Universal Robots+ and the +YOU forum are accessible now at universal-robots.com/plus and universal-robots.com/developer. The first URCaps were on display in the Universal Robots+ Showroom.
Visual Material can be downloaded HERE.
About Universal Robots
Universal Robots is the result of many years of intensive research at Denmark’s successful robot cluster, which is located in Odense, Denmark. The company was co-founded in 2005 by the company’s CTO, Esben Østergaard, who wanted to make robot technology accessible to all by developing small, user-friendly, reasonably priced, flexible industrial robots that are safe to work with and on their own can be used to streamline processes in the industry. The product portfolio includes the collaborative UR3, UR5 and UR10 robotic arms named after their payload in kilos. Since the first UR robot launched in December 2008, the company has experienced considerable growth with the user-friendly robots now sold in more than 50 countries worldwide. At just 195 days, the average payback period for UR robots is the fastest in the industry. The company, a part of Boston-based Teradyne Inc., is headquartered in Odense and has subsidiaries and regional offices in the U.S., Spain, Germany, Singapore, Czech Republic, India, and China. Universal Robots has more than 270 employees worldwide.
Learn more at www.universal-robots.com.