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‘First full family’ of safe robots will open up new applications

05 March, 2015

The Californian robot-maker Precise Automation is launching what it describes as “the first full family of intrinsically safe benchtop collaborative robots”. The robots – which include Scara, six-axis articulated and Cartesian types – have been designed from scratch to work safely with humans, without needing costly, bulky and awkward safety barriers.

Precise Automation says that the robots will not injure a user or damage other equipment, even if there are accidental full-speed collisions. This, it adds, will allow them to be deployed in applications that could not be automated before.

The robots have been designed from scratch with collaborative uses in mind. Their motion controls, harnesses and power supplies are integrated into their structures, cutting costs and reducing the space needed for automated workcells. Operators will be able to access the cells safely, even while the robot is moving, thus boosting productivity.

Precise Automation says that these novel features will allow cost-saving workcell designs to be developed for traditional robot applications, as well as creating new applications in areas that have not been automated previously.

“Unlike most other collaborative robots, which are intrinsically dangerous mechanisms operating in a collaborative mode, Precise’s new family of robots are specifically designed for benchtop, collaborative applications,” explains Brian Powell, the company’s vice-president of sales and operations. “Our mechanisms are intrinsically safe in all operation modes and are currently being used without safety shields in a variety of applications around the world, including consumer electronics manufacturing, life sciences and pharmaceutical testing and small parts handling and assembly.” 

Two of Precise Automation's safe robot designs: the six-axis and Scara versions

The embedded motion controller allows gravity-balanced free-mode teaching. The end-effectors can be programmed to move along smooth, straight-line paths, or complex motion sequences, simply by moving the robot by hand to the start and end positions and letting the controller handle the rest. The controller also offers a simple, yet powerful, programming language, an Ethernet interface (that supports PC control via an open-source TCP/IP command server), kinematics for Cartesian motions, and an embedded Web server that allows robots to be operated locally via a Web browser on a PC or wireless tablet, or remotely from anywhere in the world.

Precise says that the new robots will simplify programming and cut cycle times using the most efficient motions possible. The new family will make its debut at the Automate 2015 trade show in Chicago from 23–26 March.

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