The Sawyer collaborative robot has new life, thanks to upgrades by Rethink Robotics GmbH. The German company today announced that Sawyer Black Edition is available for pre-order and that Daniel Bunse is its new CEO.
A year ago, Boston-based Rethink Robotics Inc. shut down after a decade and $150 million in funding because of technical limitations and a scuttled acquisition. While robotics experts marked the end of the cobot pioneer, its staff found new jobs, and HAHN Group bought its assets. The new Rethink Robotics GmbH said it would continue support and development of Sawyer.
Cobot includes new components
As part of its plan to apply “German engineering,” Rethink Robotics GmbH has addressed some of the one-armed robot’s design challenges. Sawyer Black Edition includes “higher-quality” components, making it “significantly” more reliable, more durable, and quieter, said the company.
The previous version of Sawyer used series elastic actuators, which led to problems with precision, sources had told The Robot Report, sibling site to Collaborative Robotics Trends. The cobot was relatively safe and popular among academic researchers, but it had difficulty in the industrial market.
The quieter Sawyer Black Edition should be easier for people to work alongside, helping with the cobot’s acceptance and adoption, claimed Rethink Robotics GmbH.
Sawyer Black Edition specs
Sawyer Black Edition has the same maximum reach of 1,260mm (49.6 in.), a payload of 4kg (8.8 lb.), and seven degrees of freedom as its predecessor. Its first three joints have the same range of 350 degrees, with Joints 4 and 5 limited to 340 degrees. Joint 6 still has 540 degrees.
The updated cobot is slightly faster, with a typical tool speed of 1.5 m/sec, compared with 1 m/sec. The I/O for end-of-arm tooling is four digital in, two digital out, and two analog in, but now requires a Click Smart plate for quick gripper changes. The I/O for power remains 24 volts, 2 amps.
Communications are now via Modbus TCP and TCP/IP, compared with Modbus Remote I/O and PLC for the previous edition.
Sawyer Black Edition comes with the Intera control software, which is intended to be easy to use and connects with other Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices.
Sawyer Black Edition includes the Robot Positioning System for dynamic reorientation using two integrated Cognex cameras. Global support is available through support hubs in Asia, Europe, and the U.S., said Rethink.
In addition, Sawyer Black Edition complies with the ISO 10218-1:2011 standard for industrial robot safety, but operators should still conduct a safety assessment of the cobot’s end effector, workspace, and payload.
Sawyer Black Edition targets industrial applications
Sawyer Black Edition was designed for processes that were previously difficult to automate, such as CNC machine tending, loading and unloading, circuit board testing, metal fabrication, injection molding, and packaging, according to Rethink.
Not only are cobots intended to be safer to use around human workers, but they are also supposed to be easier to reprogram for high-variability, small-batch operations. In the case of Sawyer, this includes train-by-demonstration capabilities, flexible reorientation with the Intera software and embedded vision systems, and simultaneous joint torque and position control, said the company.
Rethink Robotics GmbH plans to demonstrate Sawyer Black Edition at the K 2019 plastics and rubber trade show this week in Dusseldorf, Germany. It will show the cobot as part of a palletizing application for boxes and plastic parts at Booth E61 in Hall 10.
Rethink Robotics said it plans to ship the first Sawyer Black Edition cobots this year.
The Robot Report is launching the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, which will be on Dec. 9-10 in Santa Clara, Calif. The conference and expo will focus on improving the design, development, and manufacture of next-generation healthcare robots. Learn more about the Healthcare Robotics Engineering Forum, and registration is now open.
Editor’s note: Collaborative Robotics Trends has reached out to Rethink for comments, which will be added to this article.