Universal Robots in Ann Arbor Launches NextGen “Cobots” with Advanced Vision and Grippers

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Next month, Universal Robots in Ann Arbor will introduce the next generation of automation solutions for the supply-chain industry with its collaborative robot arms.

The so-called RightPick.AI from RightHand Robotics (RHR), which is working with Universal Robots, is the first vision-guided machine learning-based software designed to enable autonomous “lights out” robotic item-picking for warehouse order fulfillment.

Learning from both sensor feedback of the RightHand Robotics intelligent gripper and an integrated vision system, RightPick.AI provides the “brains” behind the RightPick solution suite for e-commerce fulfillment operations.

Warehouse processes such as order fulfillment require the ability to recognize and pick a wide range of items that are different sizes, weights, and materials, often jumbled together in bins. While traditional industrial robots usually stay bolted down in protective cages, dedicated to one handling task only, collaborative robots, or cobots, effectively address this automation challenge with flexible implementation and low upfront cost.

Leif Jentoft, co-founder of RHR, refers to RightPick.AI’s flexible grasping capabilities as the “holy grail” in robotics technology. “RightPick.AI-enabled piece-picking delivers ‘The Three Rs’ – range of items, rate of picking, and reliability of the customer getting what they ordered,” he says. “RightPick.AI can run on any robot arm, but RHR chose Universal Robots as they can safely work side-by-side with humans in warehouse environments.”

RightPick.AI enables validated picking and placement of the industry’s widest range of items (SKUs) regardless of orientation, including items the system has not seen before, eliminating the need for 3D CAD models of new SKUs.

The system can handle a variety of customer workflows, such as picking items from ASRS (Automate Storage and Retrieval Systems), inducting items onto sorters, sorting batch-picked items to put walls, and order quality assurance. Utilizing machine learning, the system becomes increasingly more intelligent, expanding the range of pickable SKUs and first-pick success, as well as pick and place validation capabilities.

“To have collaborative arms as user-friendly as the UR systems gives us a very accessible solution,” says Nadia Cheng, business development team member at RHR. “I was super impressed by how easy it was to use, and how elegant the whole process was.”

Universal Robots was co-founded in 2005 by Esben Ostergaard, now CTO, who wanted to make robot technology accessible to all by developing small, user-friendly, reasonably priced, flexible industrial robots that are safe to work with.

Since the first collaborative robot (cobot) was launched in 2008, the company has experienced considerable growth with the user-friendly cobot now sold worldwide. In 2017, Universal Robots had revenue of $170 million.

For more information, please visit www.universal-robots.com.

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