Are ABB YuMi Industrial Robots the Future of Human and Robot Collaboration?

A new major player has recently come to the forefront of industrial robotics, the ABB YuMi, which is a pairing of human workers with robot assembly to get small or big jobs done precisely and safely. For the first time, there is robot and human collaboration in the industrial sector – robots able to actively detect a human presence and respond to it in a manner that is ‘human friendly’.

For instance, the danger of a robotic machine swinging around into a human worker has been one reason to avoid humans and robots working in tandem. With ABB YuMi however these robots are designed to behave differently around humans to compensate for our flesh and blood limitations while assisting us with our work.

What Is It?

Called YuMi, the robot has two arms and is mounted onto a work surface or table. The name YuMi comes from the inventors ‘you and me’ ideal of robots working together with humans. Great for consumer electronics, the robot can ‘feel’ and ‘see’ what is happening around it so as to react to its environment as a human worker would. An added feature is called ‘force-sensing’ technology which works with YuMi’s soft, padded arms. This means YuMi will know how hard to press or touch an object as well as being able to manipulate parts as small as a mechanical wrist watch, mobile phone, tablet, and desktop PC parts. In short, YuMi can actually thread a needle.

What Does ABB YuMi Do?

Small parts assembly is what ABB YuMi is currently used for. In a demonstration video, a worker puts a part onto a work surface, ABB YuMi picks up the part and adds a piece to it then puts the part back on the work surface. After another human addition, ABB YuMi once more picks up the modified part to perform a task with it.

Previous Assumptions Blown Apart

Even ahead of the official April 13, 2015 launch day for sales of the industrial robot, the ABB YuMi has been making waves during its pre-sale demonstrations and testing. Physically although the robot is a two armed industrial machine, it has an eye pleasing design reminiscent of a plastic white and black robot toy,which allows the focus to be on the work and not on the strange object which the worker may interact with. By making it appealing to humans and able to do jobs previously difficult for human workers, there is no doubt that YuMi will be changing the way industrial robots and industry work in the future.

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