When the Robots Speak the Same Language

At Automatica, ABB and Kawasaki, represented in Italy by Tiesse Robot, launched the very first common interface for collaborative robots, made simpler by the use of smartphone-like navigation and icons. A joint demo, on display at the exhibition, showed the practical opportunities of such an innovative project.

by Sergio Soriano

Demand for collaborative robots has outpaced the rapidly-growing industrial robot market, as easier-to-use robots open doors to new users. The fact that collaborative robots can be programmed and operated by people without specialized training helps small and medium enterprises, in particular, to leapfrog traditionally longer industrial robot learning curves.
At Automatica, the leading exhibition for robotics in Europe, ABB and Kawasaki developed a joint collaborative automation demonstration made of Kawasaki’s dual-arm SCARA robot duAro working together with ABB’s dual-arm YuMI robot. In addition to continued development of the operating interface, the collaboration also focuses on other topics such as common safety standards, which ensure worker safety, but also allow for entirely new ways of working together without unduly restricting collaborative robots’ many benefits.

Higher flexibility and scalability
“The new state-of-the-art, industry-standard operating interface will accelerate the already rapid growth we see in collaborative robots”, said Per Vegard Nerseth, Managing Director of Robotics for ABB. “It will give many new manufacturers flexibility and scalability, while providing more interesting jobs for the world’s vital industrial workforce”. The interface is a result of the collaboration between ABB and Kawasaki announced in November of 2017. The project is designed to share knowledge and promote the benefits of collaborative automation, in particular dual-arm collaborative robots. It includes a simplified human–robot interface with intuitive, smartphone-like navigation and icons. “We are proud to take this first big step together with ABB and it is entirely appropriate that we usher in a new age of collaboration automation with a collaborative approach”, said Yasuhiko Hashimoto, Managing Executive Officer and President of the Precision Machinery and Robot Company, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd.