In the past robotic automation consisted of large and powerful industrial robots that had to be closed off from workers. They were mainly used to automate repetitive and high volume processes. However, in today’s manufacturing world robot manipulators and people can now work collaboratively and alongside one another thanks to the development of collaborative robots.
Collaborative robots, also known as cobots, feature a lighter and more compact design than other industrial robot arms. They are built with rounded exteriors, internal sensors, and force limitation. Their unique safety design allows for barrier free operation and for them to safely interact with humans. Hand guidance allows for cobots to be programmed through demonstration taking place in a matter of minutes. Cobots are changing manufacturing allowing for high mix and low volume processes to be automated. They have quickly become one of the biggest trends in robotics. The growth of the collaborative robot market has led to several top robot manufacturers to shift their focus to developing cobots. Below is a look at the most popular collaborative robot brands for 2023.
- • FANUC - FANUC is known as one of the top brands for traditional articulated robots, but they are also emerging as a top brand for collaborative robots. FANUC has developed two lines of cobots. Their CR series which features the CR-15ia and the CR-7ia, as well as their new CRX series that includes the CRX-10ia/L.
- • Universal - Universal exclusively manufactures collaborative robots. Their original UR series includes the popular Universal UR5. While their Ure series is their latest generation of collaborative robots and features the UR16e. Universal cobots are known for their plug and play setups with installations taking just a few hours.
- • KUKA - KUKA is another traditional six axis robot manufacturer that has entered into collaborative robot manufacturing. In fact, they developed the first collaborative robot. The KUKA lbr iiwa 14 R820 is one of KUKA’s current collaborative robots.
- • ABB - ABB’s first collaborative robot was their dual arm YuMi cobot. Since then they have released several more models including a single arm YuMi version. ABB cobots feature best in class safety with an emphasis on low payload applications.
- • Yaskawa Motoman - Yaskawa Motoman’s first cobot was their HC10 robot. With the success of the HC10, Yaskawa Motoman developed two more HC cobots. Yaskawa Motoman cobots are ideal for assisting workers with material handling applications.
- • Staubli - Staubli has developed a line of cobots based off of their TX2 robot, called TX2Touch. The name for their cobot series comes from the skin touch safety feature. When simply touched, their cobots are designed to immediately stop operating.
- • Epson - Epson is a small robot manufacturer specializing in SCARA and small articulated robots. Given their background in small robotic manipulators it makes sense for them to enter the collaborative robot market as well. Epson manufacturers several cobots with their T and G series.
- • Techman - Techman has emerged as one of the leading collaborative robot companies. Their cobots feature robotic vision systems, intuitive programming, and the ability to automate a wide variety of tasks.