Universal Robots has long been the leading developer of collaborative robot arms. Earlier this month, the company increased the production capacity of its UR20 cobot arm to keep up with customer demand. And today at iREX in Tokyo, Universal Robots unveiled its latest product: the UR30 cobot arm.
Built on the same architecture as the UR20, the UR30 offers more payload capacity in a compact footprint. With a 30 kg (66.13 lb.) lifting capacity, 1,300 mm (51.2 in.) reach, and weight of 63.5 kg (139.9 lb.), the company said the UR30 can tend larger machines, palletize heavy products and support high-torque screwdriving.
Anders Billesø Beck, vice president of strategy and innovation at Universal Robots, told Collaborative Robotics Trends that the UR30 has been in development for more than a year. He said that, despite the popularity of the UR20, some customers wanted a robot with a smaller footprint and a higher payload capacity.
“We saw some applications where the UR20 was too big,” he said. “We’ve found that ideal combination of size and power. The footprint of the UR10 resonates with a lot of customers. The UR30 is a supercharged version of the UR10.”
The UR10e weighs 33.5 kg (73.9 lb.), offers the same reach as the UR30, and has a payload capacity of 12.5 kg (27.55 lb.). The UR20 weighs 64 kg (141.1 lb.), has a reach of 1,750 mm (68.9 in.) and offers a payload capacity of 20 kg (44.1 lb.).
The UR30 is available for pre-order now and will begin shipping in Q1 2024. Universal Robots is now actively selling six cobot arms: the UR3e, UR5e, UR10e, UR16e, UR20, and the new UR30. Here’s a chart that compares the company’s cobot arms. Note that it hasn’t yet been updated to include the specs of the UR30.
The UR20 won a 2023 RBR50 Robotics Innovation Award, which at the time was the Odense, Denmark-based company’s strongest and fastest cobot.
UR30 has ‘steady mode’ for high-torque screwdriving
The UR10 will still be useful, Beck said, as the UR30 is more expensive and about double the weight. The UR30 offers six degrees of freedom and a new “steady mode” that Beck said opens up the cobot arm to different screwdriving applications, including in the automotive industry.
“If you have a cobot, you need to measure if you have collisions with people or objects, but that contradicts existing external forces,” Beck said. “So we have a specific function for screwdriving built into our cobots now that holds the robot at a standstill so we can withstand more torque. This enables fairly high-torque tightening applications with collaborative robots.”
Food and beverage drive packaging demand
Beck said UR is seeing a lot of demand within food and beverage packaging applications. He said 30 kg is about the cutoff for the amount of weight humans are asked to lift on and off of pallets. “Sacks of rice or canned items are designed to be at the limit of what people can lift.”
To help with these heavier-duty packaging applications, Beck said new 20 to 30 kg grippers are coming to market from some of UR’s ecosystem partners.
“The higher payload and greater flexibility underpin a new era in automation,” stated UR President Kim Povlsen. “Industries around the world are embracing more agile manufacturing and modularity in production – part of achieving that modularity and agility is about mobility, and this cobot delivers that despite its payload.”
“As industries evolve, the UR30 not only meets but [also] anticipates shifting demands, enabling businesses to adapt and respond to changing needs effectively,” he said. “As we continue to innovate, the UR30 is another step in UR’s journey in pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the world of automation.”
UR sales milestone looms
The UR30 isn’t the first cobot to offer a 30 kg payload capacity. FANUC and Yaskawa beat UR to the punch there. But Universal Robots has sold far more cobots than any company to date.
You can read more about Universal Robots’ history here, but it was founded in 2005, sold its first cobot in 2008 and was acquired by Teradyne in 2015 for $285 million. The company’s U.S. headquarters are in Boston.
Those are some of the milestones UR has already reached, but another is likely to come in 2024: selling its 100,000th cobot arm. Could that historic sale be a new UR30?
“The demand in many industries has been overwhelming,” Beck said. “We always look at what’s the best way to expand our portfolio. For us, it’s all about having simplicity of choice for our customers. It should be easy for them to look at our products and pick which one they need. The UR30 is another step in that direction.”