Universal Robots (UR), PickNik, and Forschungszentrum Informatik (FZI) released the beta version of the ROS 2 driver they’ve been working on for UR’s collaborative robot arms. The driver works across UR’s entire cobot line, including the newer e-Series cobots.
This also is one of the first ROS 2 manipulator drivers. In mid-April, South Korea-based Doosan Robotics released open-source drivers compatible with ROS 2 Foxy Fitzroy. Open Robotics, the organization behind ROS, confirmed that Doosan Robotics is the first cobot arm manufacturer to release open-source drivers into the ROS 2 Foxy distribution.
The new driver for UR supports nearly all of the ROS 1 driver’s capabilities and should feel familiar to users. Some of the new features enabled by ROS 2 include decreased latency, improved security, and more flexibility with regard to middleware configuration. Launch files to get started quickly and easily with MoveIt 2 are included.
The installation instructions can be found here. As this is the official beta release, the creators are looking for your feedback. You can report any issues you come across here.
Related: How to mitigate the impact of ROS Kinetic EOL
As a member of the ROS 2 Technical Steering Committee, PickNik is hoping these hardware demos with MoveIt 2, ROS 2, and UR cobots will speed up the transition to the more industrial and hardened ROS 2 middleware.
Of course, UR is the leading developer of cobot arms and owns roughly a 40% share of the entire market. It recently sold its 50,000 cobot arm, and in 2020 alone it sold 9,000-plus cobots. UR earned $66 million in Q1 revenue, which is up 32% year-over-year and 15% over Q1 2019.
Cobots are the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation. UR’s cobots are also very popular in the ROS community as the UR3e, UR5e, UR10e and UR16e series are well known for a friendly, intuitive user interface and flexible control modalities.
UR, along with AutoGuide Mobile Robots, Energid, and Mobile Industrial Robots, is owned by Teradyne. Greg Smith, president of Teradyne’s Industrial Automation Group, recently joined The Robot Report Podcast. He took us inside the goals and strategy of Teradyne’s automation acquisitions, offers a unique perspective on mobile manipulation and discusses the future of cobots. You can listen to the podcast below.
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