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Two-armed robot represents 'a new era in automation’

12 September, 2014

After several appearances of prototypes at trade shows, ABB’s two-armed collaborative robot has been given a name – YuMi – and a launch date – the Hannover Fair next April. ABB says that the robot represents a new era in automation.

The “human-friendly” robot, which can feel and see, is designed to work safely with humans in small-parts assembly operations. Its initial uses are expected to be for flexible, agile production in the consumer electronics industry, where it will operate alongside human co-workers. It will then be rolled out to other sectors.

“YuMi is going to change many of mankind’s assumptions about manufacturing and industrial processes,” says Pekka Tiitinen, head of ABB’s discrete automation and motion division, “Yumi will open endless possibilities. We are at the start of a very exciting new era for industrial automation.”

The robot’s soft, padded dual arms, combined with built-in force sensors, allow it to work safely alongside human co-workers. Integrated safety functions allow it to be used without a protective cage.

ABB's YuMi robot has been designed to work safely, without a cage, alongside human co-workers

YuMi can handle items ranging from the delicate watch parts to components used in mobile phones, tablets and desktop PCs. It is claimed to be accurate enough to thread a needle.

“Naming this robot YuMi (“you and me”) reflects the true spirit of human-machine collaboration – humans and robots sharing tasks side-by-side in ways we could never have imagined previously,” says Per Vegard Nerseth, head of ABB’s global robotics business.

YuMi will be launched commercially at the Hannover Messe in Germany in April 2015. Prices will be revealed then.

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