March 17, 2015      

True tools

In the hand of a carpenter, a hammer adapts to the building of a house as the carpenter sees fit; it?s never the house directing the carpenter?s hand. Universal Robots, since its inception, has done the very same for its industrial robots, which is very unlike traditional industrial robotics, where the work rigidly yokes the robot.

?With the UR5 and UR10 robots, we see end users integrating our robot arms in applications and industries that we didn?t initially expect,? says Esben Oestergaard, founder and CTO of Universal Robots.

That?s the sign of a true tool, when the tool maker himself stands amazed at how many different ways his tool is used.

More so, it?s a good sign as to why this diminutive Danish robot maker has risen so fast and been so successful in the global market. It?s a knack that the robot majors like KUKA, ABB and FANUC have yet to acquire, try as they may.

With the announcement of its newest robot, the UR3, Universal Robots has done it yet again, this time making a robot tool for the world of work on the top of a table.

?I?m sure we will be equally surprised to witness the adaptation of the UR3 into new scenarios where robots haven?t ventured before,? says Oestergaard.


Embargoed early word

So, it was with a mixture of journalistic curiosity and amusement when the embargoed press release announcing the UR3 hit the RBR newsroom.


Amusement turned to amazement upon reading that Universal had scaled its robot arm in reverse to put a machine on a tabletop. Brilliant!

Truly, it?s not that Universal is alone at this game of making flexible, lightweight, versatile robots that work side-by-side with human co-workers; there are other small innovators with marvelous technology doing nearly the exact same thing.

The differentiator is the level of success that Universal Robots has tapped into on a global scale in all sorts of industries and work assignments.

The UR family is being instantly recognized as a tool set with multipurpose capabilities seemingly without limitation. The carpenter in all of us can?t wait to put these tools to use.

The new compact table-top robot weighs only 24.3 lbs, has 19.7 inch reach, a payload capacity of 6.6 lbs, with 360-degrees rotation on all wrist joints and infinite rotation on the end joint.

Although, like the UR5 and UR10 before it, we?ll have to wait awhile to see how the UR3 is actually put to use in the real world?which is going to be interesting, to say the least?Universal suggests the UR3 for soldering, gluing, screwing, painting, pick and place, operating hand tools, laboratory work, as well as lab fume hoods.

Just those eight alone offer up an expansive set of capabilities that could impact a whole range of industries.

With revenue at $18 million for 2013, and a company goal of doubling revenue every year through 2017, the three-year development program that built the UR3 just may catapult the company beyond its desired goal.

The average ROI for UR robots, the company claims, is the fastest in the industry at only 195 days.

Seems lots of customers have bought into the UR product line: the company claims that it now has over 2,000 collaborative robots deployed in 43 countries worldwide, with 80 percent working as co-robots directly alongside employees.

    Here are the UR3?s core features:

  • 6 axis, collaborative table-top robot
  • Weight: 24.3lbs
  • Payload: 6.6lbs
  • Reach: 19.7in
  • 360 degree rotation on all wrist joints, infinite rotation on end joint
  • Repeatability: ±0.1 mm (±0,004 in)
  • 15 adjustable, advanced safety settings
  • Improved force control
  • New motherboard with faster boot-up

Watch it work: