Examples of collaborative robots: 10 iconic models

In the 2010s, a few pioneering robotics companies sought to democratize automation in small and medium-sized industries. They invented robots with a lightweight design and capable of working in interaction with workers – collaborative robots

Since then, many actors have rushed into this high-growth market and brought differentiating cobotic models. But what are the most iconic examples of cobots in the market?

Here are the most popular and best-selling cobot series on the market, and the reasons for their success. Just take a look!

The Universal Robot series

Founded by 4 Danish students, Universal Robot is one of the most iconic companies in cobotics. They worked on the first cobot prototypes back in the 2000s, and released their first cobot, the UR5, in 2008.

Since then, they have greatly expanded their range of UR models to fit many applications. This has allowed them to become the most popular cobot series in the world, owning nearly half of the market share.

The UR series’ recipe for success? A compact design and an ergonomic user interface. UR robots are lightweight and agile, making them suitable for a wide range of applications. They have safety features that allow them to collaborate with workers. Universal Robot has also taken care to make their robot easily programmable by anyone, thanks to an intuitive interface and manual guidance.

Even today, with their augmented e-series model, they offer an unbeatable versatility and user experience.

KUKA LBR models

UR is not the only company pioneering the industry. While the German Aerospace Center worked on a lightweight and self-carrying robot, automation manufacturer Kuka decided to buy the license in 2004.

Impressed by the concept, Kuka wanted to market a refined version of the model under the name KUKA LBR. The modern model, the Kuka LBR iiwa, has become a landmark for major industries, including automotive.

Why so much success ?

The great selling point of these robots is that they are equipped with advanced force and position sensors. By displaying great precision and dexterity in their movement, they easily automate redundant industrial applications, such as assembly, pick-and-place and machine loading.

Thanks to their compact design, they can also work in interaction with workers without risk. This has given them an advantage in labor-starved industries that want to automate tasks on the production floor.

And that’s why Kuka continues to gradually expand its market share.

Fanuc CRs

Building on their longstanding expertise in industrial robotics, FANUC launched their own cobot models in 2015, under the CR series. To provide their customers with an automation tool for all range of applications, they have gradually developed one of the most expanded series on the market (with respect to reach and load capacities).

The CR series is mostly popular for its versatility, reliability, and customization. Fanuc cobots feature high motion repeatability and durable materials. They are also compatible with many FANUC accessories, whether it is a gripper, screwdriver, vision or force control devices.

This, combined with their performance, allows them to be productive in many industrial applications.

TM-Omron cobots

Leveraging its group’s optical and mechanical technologies, Techman Robot launched its TM series of cobots in 2016 as some of the most innovative on the market.

The success of TM cobots relies mainly on their advanced sensor technology. They are among the first cobots with computer vision, which allows them to manipulate objects in a very flexible way. Users do not have to know how to code or manage complex software to automate variable processes.

The TM series provides also precise force and motion sensors that prevent collisions with workers. Combined with a user-friendly interface, the TMS cobots handle complex applications with great efficiency.

Such success has led many industrial distributors, including the Ormon Group, to expand Techman’s audience. It’s then no wonder that Ormon’s TM cobots are finding great success in Korean and European industries.

ABB Yumi

ABB is an automation company with big ambitions for the cobotics market. With the launch of their Yumi series in 2015, they created the first collaborative robot with two arms. Expanding their series little by little, ABB wanted to bet on the precision and safety of these cobots.

As a result, Yumi cobots provide advanced force and collision sensors that solely ensure workers’ safety. The Yumi’s grip is also very precise, allowing it to handle small objects at high speeds. This means they can work close to employees in changing and flexible applications, such as small part assembly.

With this series, ABB has helped many industrial, food, and pharmaceutical companies to make their production cycles more flexible. With their latest SWIFTI and GoFA models, the group has further expanded its cobot range, focusing on speed and user experience.

So these are the cobot models of choice for any company that wants human-machine automation!

Sawyer from Rethink Robotics

Rethink Robotics was founded in 2008 by two robotics enthusiasts with the goal of improving human-robot interaction.

With their compact and intelligent model, Sawyer, they sought in 2015 to bring a human touch into production systems. As a result, Sawyer stands out immediately for its pleasant and user-friendly design. It especially provides an interface that maintains eye contact with the worker and expresses emotions. At the same time, it has force sensors that ensure optimal safety. All this helps to improve the acceptability of automation among workers.

But Sawyer has still other major assets. It has external cameras and intelligent vision software that allows great industrial flexibility. Combined with its compact design, this means it can be deployed on fairly complex and narrow applications.

Since its acquisition by the German HAHN Group, the Saywer series offers increased capabilities and promises many future innovations when it comes to user experience!

Aubo I-series

Aubo is a Chinese startup that has built on years of development and research to produce remarkable cobot models. They launched their Aubo I-series in 2016 to conquer not only the Asian market, but also the American market.

The specificities of Aubo I robots lie in their versatility and modularity. The cobot’s components can be easily disassembled and reassembled, and they can be adapted to many applications. The programming system is also open to many coding languages and accessories. Any user can install an API or code a new protocol for the cobot.

Aubo also provides a very ergonomic interface, to make automation accessible to any worker. Its manual controls and 3D simulator offer many application possibilities.

Since its first model, Aubo has greatly extended its range, from the Aubot i-3 to the Aubot i-16. The company has been very successful in meeting the different needs and production demands of American and Chinese companies.

Panda by Franka Emika

Sami Haddadin, a robotics specialist at the University of Munich, founded Franka Emika in 2016 with one goal in mind: to make robotics accessible to everyone. In 2017, he and his team introduced Franka Emika Panda, a cobot aimed at accelerating research around human/machine collaboration.

As an experimental cobot, Panda has a remarkable user experience and technical performance. In addition to a great sensibility on its 7 axes, it provides one of the most intuitive programming interfaces on the market.

In particular, it has a completely open software environment, for great modularity. On the Franka World cloud platform, users can share and find new custom applications. All this allows researchers to immediately access programming resources, and to test their cobot on innovative applications.

Because of this ease of use, it has attracted many universities and research institutions. Thus, no doubt that Panda will bring many innovations in this field!

Dobot Magician

Taking a radically different approach from the market, the cobots from Chinese company Dobot focus on small-scale designs. Their Dobot Magician range is aimed at small businesses, workshops and studios, and even individual consumers.

Equipped with all kinds of accessories, these desktop cobots have functionalities like 3D printing, laser engraving and drawing. Originally intended for education, they are now aimed at craftsmen and artists who need to automate some of their work processes. They have an accessible visual interface and an open software environment to adapt to any original application.

The Dobot Magician series has thus opened up to new customers in the cobotics market, helping individual makers to express their creativity. It is now gradually expanding to education for children and small industries by focusing on safety and inventiveness.

OTTO cobots

Cobots can also be mobile, and OttoMotors knows it more than anyone. With its OTTO series, this company wants to automate material transportation in companies and conquer the market of autonomous robotic vehicles.

OTTO cobots stand out for their ability to move in network with workers and other cobots on the same area. The different models adapt to the types of materials to be transported (pallets, parts, packaging…) and can also act as a conveyor on production lines. The ergonomic Fleet Manager interface also provides traffic data to optimize your fleet processes.

For all these reasons, OTTO is one of the leaders in this emerging market of mobile cobots.

That’s it, you now know what cobots look like! And if you want a deeper comparison between these robots, check out our guide.

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