Universal Robots launches in India

Universal Robots collaborative robot. Picture: courtesy Robotiq
Universal Robots collaborative robot. Picture: courtesy Robotiq.

Universal Robots has launched in India amid much fanfare and high-powered diplomacy. The Danish Ambassador to India, Peter Taksøe-Jensen, did the honours by officially launching Universal Robots during a ceremony at the Le Meridian, New Delhi.

Universal, a Danish company which was bought by US industrial giant Teradyne last year, considers itself a pioneer in collaborative robots, and its new product range was unveiled at the India launch event by Esben Østergaard, Universal’s chief technology officer, along with Pradeep David, the company’s general manager, India.

Human-robot collaboration has come of age with collaborative robots – also called co-bots – designed to work with humans and assist them with a variety of tasks. Continue reading Universal Robots launches in India

Do you want chips with that? How robots are threatening millions of fast food jobs

mcdonalds, fast food, robots
McDonald’s plans to open 25,000 robot-run fast food restaurants this year

Technology moves so fast there’s rarely enough time to grab a burger before the next iPhone update. And even if you do find the time to visit a fast food restaurant, it’s increasingly likely that it will be a robot that will be preparing your food and possibly even serving you, not to mention charging you for their efforts to seem human while carrying out their customer service duties.

According to Statista, almost 4 million people in the US work in the fast food industry. McDonald’s, arguably the most famous fast food restaurant chain in the world, employs around half a million people. Continue reading Do you want chips with that? How robots are threatening millions of fast food jobs

Japan Airlines and Nomura Research trialling Nao robot in customer service role at Haneda Airport

nao haneda airport
Aldebaran’s Nao robot has found work at Haneda airport, helping JAL customers

Japan Airlines (JAL) and Nomura Research Institute (NRI) are conducting test to improve customer service with a Nao service robot.

The tests will be conducted at JAL’s Information Counter and in front of the security checkpoint at Haneda Airport Passenger Terminal 1.

At the information counter, a service robot will be linked to digital signage to provide customers with information on their flight and aircraft, and tourist sites and weather information at the destination through conversation. Continue reading Japan Airlines and Nomura Research trialling Nao robot in customer service role at Haneda Airport

Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

boss dictates letter to secretaryOne of the many perks of being the boss of a reasonably sized company is having your own personal assistant, someone who you can dictate letters to, someone who keeps your diary updated, answers your phones and helps you organise your time so you are as efficient and as productive as you can be at work.

A good PA is often very highly paid, commensurate with the company and business sector he or she works for, and their image as super-fast typists and excellent organisers is one that is often celebrated and acknowledged.

However, the relationship between the boss and the PA could be about to change forever as a result of developments in artificially intelligent assistant technology. Already there are a number of artificially intelligent personal assistants – let’s call them AIPAs for now – on the market and according to some, they’re quite good. Continue reading Your artificially intelligent assistant is ready to take a letter

Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes

The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University
The 1,000 swarm robots of the Kilobot Project at Harvard University

It seems obvious now that in the event of an earthquake, tiny, swarm robots would be the most effective way of locating survivors in huge piles of rubble through which human emergency workers and first responders cannot make their way or even see.

So obvious that you wonder why they haven’t been developed and even deployed for that purpose already. Certainly the technology seems to be advanced enough – research into the area has been going at an accelerated pace for some time.

Looking at pictures of the collapsed building in Taiwan after the earthquake there on Saturday, there looks to be no way to go in for the emergency workers trying to rescue the survivors. The magnitude-7.6 quake is reported to have killed at least 41 people and more than 100 are said to be trapped in the rubble in that building alone. Continue reading Tiny swarm robots could become first responders after earthquakes

Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners

Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners
Pepper robot is being given employment on Costa Cruise liners

Cruise liner company Costa Group has signed an exclusive agreement with the French company Aldebaran for a pilot project with Pepper robots.

Aldebaran, which is a subsidiary of the SoftBank Group through SoftBank Robotics Corp, said the contract was worth more than a million euros.

Pepper is the world’s first robot that reads main human emotions, says the company, adding that it is ideally suited to help and delight guests on board of cruise ships. Aldebaran adds that Pepper will improve guest experience and provide help and entertainment on board the ships of the Costa Group’s cruise brands: AIDA and Costa.  Continue reading Costa Group to test Pepper humanoid robots on cruise liners

Robots take fruit-picking route to global domination

Chris Roberts, head of industrial robotics at Cambridge Consultants, gives Robotics and Automation News an exclusive interview 

For those of us fortunate enough to spend our time shopping, and perhaps think of ourselves as discerning shoppers, one of the more pleasant experiences when buying fruit is evaluating them on a number of factors, such as colour, texture, firmness and aroma.

chris roberts, cambridge consultants
Chris Roberts

This final selection process tends to happen at the store, after the fruit supplier has already played its part in initially choosing the most suitable produce for the shops it supplies.

A large amount of automation technology is already used in the fruit-picking industry, from robots picking fruit off trees and plants to huge automated fruit sorting machines, but things could be about to take a quantum leap with the advent of fruit-picking robots that can use the same criteria as the most discerning of shoppers. Continue reading Robots take fruit-picking route to global domination

Robotiq launches new FT 300 force torque sensor

Robotiq has launched its newest Force Torque Sensor: the FT 300, which the company says brings “a sense of touch to your robot”.

The Force Torque Sensor FT 300 has plug and play integration on all Universal Robots, making automation of high-precision tasks such as product testing, assembly and precise part insertion easy and fast to set up.

The Force Torque Sensor FT 300 is specially designed for Universal Robots. The easy integration includes a smooth mechanical fit, integration and programming. This new Sensor will open up a whole range of force sensitive applications that will be fast and easy to automate, says the company. Continue reading Robotiq launches new FT 300 force torque sensor

Industrial robots: Fanuc sells record-breaking 400,000 robots worldwide

FANUC 35iA, collaborative robot
The Fanuc CR-35iA is the industry’s first 35 kg payload force limited collaborative robot

Fanuc has set a new world record for production of over 400,000 robots.

“Over the last several years, there’s been an increasing global demand to implement the latest technologies in factories,” said Mike Cicco, vice president, Fanuc America.

“This demand has stimulated production of industrial robots in general, and has played a major role in Fanuc achieving this milestone, and maintaining our position as the world’s number one supplier of factory automation and industrial robots.” Continue reading Industrial robots: Fanuc sells record-breaking 400,000 robots worldwide

Industrial robots: Epson Robots signs Cimtec Automation as distributor

Epson’s new SCARA robots
Epson’s new SCARA robots

Epson Robots, which claims to be the top SCARA robot manufacturer in the world, has added Cimtec Automation as the newest member of its growing distribution network.

The agreement includes distribution of all of Epson Robots automation products including their large lineup of SCARA, 6-Axis and Linear Module robots as well as integrated vision, fieldbus I/O and many other industrial automation products offered by Epson Robots.

“With over 25 years of experience, Cimtec Automation has proven themselves as more than just a distributor of products, but as a premier solutions provider in the Industrial Automation market in the Southeastern US and we are proud to have them as a part of our distribution network,” stated Michael Ferrara, director of Epson Robots. Continue reading Industrial robots: Epson Robots signs Cimtec Automation as distributor

Robotics platform: Branches of the same Redtree

Robotics enthusiasts, or makers as they are often referred to, is a global community that is growing all the time. Along with it, the demand for chipsets specifically designed for robots is also expanding. 

Compared to the large number of makers out there, there’s not many chipsets specifically designed for robots – Arduino and Raspberry Pi being the most well known. In fact, a quick search on Google yielded very few results of new chipset makers, and most of them talked of plans but no actual product in existence right now.

Top of the list, however, was Redtree Robotics. The Canadian company is the maker of the Redtree Hydra, which it says is “the definitive chipset for robotics”. The company is still building the chipset – it’s an ongoing process, with the system only available on request to select customers. Continue reading Robotics platform: Branches of the same Redtree

Top 14 industrial robot companies and how many robots they have around the world

Finding statistics on the install base of robots is not as straightforward as it might be, but RoboticsandAutomationNews.com has compiled its own list of available data and the bar chart below is the result.

Many well known companies are missing from the list and graph, but that’s because we could not find any credible and up to date figures for their install base.

We will of course try and persuade those companies to release that information to us so that we can provide a more complete picture of the market.

We’ve called this list “Top 9”, but that is based on available information.

Update: Fanuc claims to have sold 400,000 robots worldwide. That takes it from fourth on our previous list to first place in the new 2016 list. So, Fanuc is now the world’s largest maker of industrial robots according to the latest information we have. We will update the list as and when we get more information.

Update: Epson claims to have sold 10,000 more robots worldwide since our previous list. The company says it now has 55,000 industrial robots installed worldwide. Our previous list had their install base at 45,000 – this has now been updated (below).

Update: Comau says it has 30,000 robots installed worldwide. In exclusive comments to Robotics and Automation News, a senior executive at the Italian company provided the statistic as part of an extended interview. Our previous list did not include Comau as we could not find the data – this has now been updated (below).

Update: Universal Robots says it has installed 10,000 of its collaborative industrial robots worldwide.

Update 11 January 2018: Universal says it has sold an additional 10,000 units, bringing its total to 20,000.

Update: ABB says it has 300,000 robots installed worldwide, up from our previous number of 250,000. We have updated the list, and will update the pie chart at a later date. The new figure places ABB in joint-second place, along with Yaskawa, although our list shows ABB at number 3.

Update: Foxconn says it has installed 40,000 industrial robots in China, according to reports. We had not found this in official company documents, which is why we did not initially include it in the list for now. However, the report was in a reliable publication, so we have decided to include it.

Update: Mitsubishi Robotics says it has 70,000 industrial robots installed worldwide, which makes it number 8 in our list. The parent company is going through some interesting times, after a $2.3 billion capital injection, and reports that it is preparing to triple its executive pay.

Update: Stäubli is one of the original robot manufacturers, and still one of the largest. We estimate that the company has a large number of robots installed worldwide. However, in the absence of any available data, we have made our estimate as to how many robots the company has installed worldwide.

Update: Denso reveals it has a total of 95,000 robots installed.

Update 11 January 2018: Yaskawa says it currently has more than 360,000 industrial robots installed worldwide, which is 60,000 more than we had previously reported, so we have updated the list below.

Top robot companies in the world – robot install base worldwide

  1. Fanuc – 400,000
  2. Yaskawa – 360,000
  3. ABB – 300,000
  4. Kawasaki – 110,000
  5. Nachi – 100,000
  6. Denso – 95,000
  7. Kuka – 80,000
  8. Mitsubishi – 70,000
  9. Epson – 55,000
  10. Stäubli – 45,000
  11. Foxconn – 40,000
  12. Comau – 30,000
  13. Omron / Adept – 25,000
  14. Universal – 20,000

Source: RoboticsAndAutomationNews.com

If new information becomes available, we would be happy to make additions and corrections if appropriate.

We recently found out that Nachi Robotics has a substantial number of industrial robots installed worldwide, which is why we have included it in the list.

We would very much welcome any information that will help us add more companies and more stats to the list.

 

Robot density: Top 10 countries with most industrial robots for every 10,000 people employed in manufacturing

According to the IFR, the 10 countries with the highest number of industrial robots for every 10,000 people employed in manufacturing are:

  1. South Korea, 347
  2. Japan, 339
  3. Germany, 261
  4. Italy, 159
  5. Sweden, 157
  6. Denmark, 145
  7. United States, 135
  8. Spain, 131
  9. Finland, 130
  10. Taiwan, 129

Source: International Federation of Robots

Offline programming software for industrial robots from RoboDK offers hundreds of virtual industrial robots from top robotics companies

  • Offline industrial robot programming software, RoboDK, now has hundreds of virtual robots from all the leading industrial robot manufacturers, including ABB, Fanuc, and Kuka
  • RoboDK’s online library has more than 200 industrial robots, tools and external axes, which can be accessed directly from within the cross-platform application
  • Albert Nubiola, founder and CEO of RoboDK, talks to RoboticsandAutomationNews.com about offline programming and how RoboDK can play an increasingly important role in a market where other solutions can prove far more expensive 

Offline programming software for industrial robots

Offline programming for industrial robots seems like such a logical method of managing industrial robots that it’s difficult to find a good enough reason to do it any other way. Offline programming for industrial robots, mostly in the form of industrial robot simulation software, is a relatively new development in industrial robotics but it has been gaining popularity over the past few years.

However, offline programming software for industrial robots is still not as widespread as perhaps one would expect it to be. The majority of robots were programmed using the teach pendant method. A teach pendant, also known as a “teach box”, is a hand-held device often attached to the robot which has numerous buttons and a screen with which to program the robot, usually on-site, requiring the robot to be isolated from the production line and not do any work.

Without offline programming software for industrial robots, downtime is inevitable. This downtime can clearly be costly, even if the robot is out of action for a few minutes, let alone a few hours or a few days. Offline programming drastically reduces and can even eliminate the need to take the robot away from the automated cell and, therefore, is far more cost-effective. That’s the theory. But in practice, the offline programming solutions released so far have been prohibitively costly for many companies.

RoboDK, a new industrial robot simulator and offline programming software for industrial robots, is aiming to change that. RoboDK is the result of many years’ development at École de technologie supérieure (ETS) university in Montreal, Canada. It is the commercial spin-off from RoKiSim, an educational simulator for industrial robotics that the university made available for free. “RoKiSim was a basic simulator but we realised that people used it a lot,” says Albert Nubiola, founder and CEO of RoboDK. “We got a lot of feedback and we used it to build the commercial version, RoboDK. Continue reading Offline programming software for industrial robots from RoboDK offers hundreds of virtual industrial robots from top robotics companies