I used to respond when asked what I wrote about, “automation.” The return response was “robots?” But I had become less fascinated by robots from my early years as a VAR. But the collaborative and mobile robot developments have piqued my interest in the area again. Plus an adjacent area—human-assist robots for medical and handicapped person lifestyle applications.

Thanks to a couple of friendly media relations people, I’ve accumulated a flurry of news in the collaborative robot space—a technology hub and news about grippers.

World’s Largest Hub for Collaborative Robots Opens in Denmark

Danish robotics companies Mobile Industrial Robots and Universal Robots invest $36M in robot development and production.

Denmark’s Minister of Industry, Business and Financial Affairs, Simon Kollerup, unveiled what will become the new home of Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) and Universal Robots (UR), the two flagships in the thriving Danish robotics industry. The companies will share 32,000 m2 (334,000 square feet) in a new “cobot hub” in the city of Odense, the heart of Denmark’s rapidly expanding robotics cluster.

With financial backing from their joint U.S. parent company Teradyne, Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR) and Universal Robots (UR) have acquired a 50,000 m2 building site in Odense, where $36 million will be invested in the construction of a major cobot hub in the “cobot capital” of the world. Collaborative robots – or cobots – are now the fastest growing segment of industrial automation. Cobots are a type of user-friendly robots that can work closely with humans without the need for safety guarding, enhancing both work environment and productivity.

The new cobot hub supports Teradyne’s mission to further strengthen the significant leads that both MiR and UR have established worldwide.

“MiR and UR are leading the world in the collaborative robot revolution that’s making automation solutions available to companies of all sizes. Teradyne continues to invest aggressively in the development of new products, solutions, and sales channels and this new facility is a key part of our growth strategy,” says Mark Jagiela, President and CEO of Teradyne. “We have found something very special in Denmark. The Danes’ combination of innovative industrial design, combined with a practical business sense, have created a perfect combination for this emerging industry. The ability to make robots work in collaboration with humans in a user-friendly manner is something we have not encountered to this degree anywhere else in the world and we’re very excited to expand our capabilities in Odense.”

This is not the first time the MiR and UR owner has provided cash support for robot development in Denmark. To-date, Teradyne has invested more than half a billion USD in the two young Danish robotic companies, both of which are growing rapidly.

Danish robotics cluster on the rise

The Danish robotics industry is currently booming; the 2019 annual survey from trade association Odense Robotics shows that 8,500 people now work for Danish robotics companies, 3,900 of them in and around Odense, Denmark’s third largest city. If the industry follows the growth forecasts, the Danish robot industry will employ 25,000 employees in 2025 according to the Danish analyst firm Damvad.

OnRobot’s One System Solution grippers receive UR+ Certification for seamless operation with Universal Robots

The certified URCap software provides a unified interface for OnRobot’s new versions of RG2, RG6, and VG10 grippers with Universal Robots (UR). The URCap allows the OnRobot grippers to work seamlessly with UR’s collaborative robot arms in a single program with no need to change cables or load new software when deploying additional products.

With the One System Solution launched this fall, OnRobot presented a full line of intelligent grippers and sensors with a unified mechanical and communications interface. The innovative approach allows for quick plug-and-play tool changes and fast and easy programming across multiple production lines and applications.

The One System Solution grippers are now also part of the UR+ program that tests and certifies EoAT products for seamless use with cobots from Universal Robots.

“Our unified URCap software is a key differentiator for our grippers, sensors and tool changers. Now, we have a single URCap that automatically identifies the OnRobot tool that is mounted on a UR robot,” says Kristian Hulgard, General Manager of OnRobot’s Americas division. “The end users no longer have to worry about different URCaps for multiple tools, they can effortlessly plug and play various OnRobot products; for example, an RG2 two-finger gripper can be implemented with a VG10 vacuum gripper in one cycle, achieving optimized utilization of a single UR robot.”

OnRobot’s unified URCap can be installed in UR’s Polyscope operating system when installing OnRobot software. The installation requires the identification of just one product; the software automatically identifies additional OnRobot products. With the One System Solution, all OnRobot products have a unified mechanical and communications interface based on the OnRobot Quick Changer, which is now an integrated part of all OnRobot products. The Quick Changer allows manufacturers to simply click OnRobot grippers onto the UR cobot arm for instant deployment. The only cable coming out of the chain is from the Quick Changer, eliminating the need to disconnect/connect cables. An additional Dual Quick Changer incorporates these same new capabilities while allowing the use of two tools in one cycle, mixing and matching to suit application needs and maximizing robot utilization.

OnRobot Launches New 3-Finger Electric Gripper with Large Stroke for Handling Wide Range of Cylindrical Objects

OnRobot’s 3FG15 three-finger gripper with a 150mm stroke is an alternative to bulkier and less-flexible three-finger grippers currently on the market. The new gripper excels at heavy-payload machine-tending applications that require high precision and flexible handling.

“Our new 3FG15 three-finger gripper was developed as a response to existing pneumatic three-finger grippers that are bulkier and less flexible,” says CEO of OnRobot, Enrico Krog Iversen. “We have long defined the market for electric parallel grippers with the RG2 and RG6 series, and we look forward to addressing new market segments and applications with a new three-finger gripper that allows users to deploy applications faster even with highly accurate, fixed positioning.”

The 3FG15 gripper has a maximum stroke of 150mm that can easily handle multiple processes. The innovative three-finger design with a 15 kg (33 lb) payload provides a strong, stable grip for both form fit (internal) or friction fit (external) gripping, adding flexibility to any implementation.

3FG15 Features:

  • Precise stable grip with automatic centering
  • Large 150mm stroke for parts from 20mm to 150mm
  • Form fit (internal) and friction fit (external) gripping
  • 15kg payload
  • Weight 1.15kg, gripping force 10-240 N
  • Fast, flexible deployment
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