ZURICH — Leading robotics and energy technology provider ABB is celebrating the fifth birthday of its YuMi dual-armed collaborative robot this week. It launched the cobot in 2015 to assist human workers with lightweight assembly tasks, and the robot has found a wide range of industrial applications.
Safety first for YuMi
YuMi has an ergonomic design and a range of safety features, including lightweight magnesium alloy arms with soft padding to avoid pinch points, as well as advanced motion control with collision detection, said ABB, a 2020 RBR50 innovation award winner. The cobot is designed to enable humans and robots to work together on tasks that previously would have required safety barriers or cages.
According the Swiss-Swedish company, YuMi has set a standard for safety in collaborative applications. With its dexterity and dual-arm, 14-axis design, YuMi has played a key role in enhancing productivity and quality on production lines worldwide, from assembling electronics and electrical components to sorting candy, said ABB.
By removing the need for bulky and expensive safety measures such as fencing, YuMi has removed both the physical and psychological barriers separating people from robots, claimed ABB. Key to YuMi’s popularity has been its friendly design that mimics the size and movements of a human operator, and its ultra-low-weight arms, which allow it to safely move faster than other cobots.
ABB Robotics portfolio serves broad applications
“Five years ago, our vision for YuMi was to set a new standard for collaborative robotics, creating a robot able to work hand in hand with humans without further protective measures or barriers, while being simple to install and operate,” stated Sami Atiya, president of ABB’s Robotics and Discrete Automation business area. “YuMi has proved to be incredibly popular, creating a new category for small, collaborative robots for material handling, assembly, and inspection, while broadening the appeal of collaborative robots in an expanding range of applications, from manufacturing to healthcare and beyond.”
Since its launch, YuMi has become a cornerstone in ABB Robotics’ portfolio of collaborative automation systems. The company said it has delivered measurable results in applications ranging from producing electrical sockets to helping to test the security, reliability and durability of ATM machines for Swiss-based payments software provider Abrantix AG.
With the medical sector looking to improve efficiency, YuMi has branched out into healthcare and pharmaceutical applications, assisting with tasks in laboratories and medical facilities. For example, U.S.-based Copan Diagnostics is using YuMi-based HEPA-filtered bio-safety workstations to manage tissues, bone, and sterile fluid samples, as well as to transport traditional swabs and blood cultures.
YuMi meets world leaders
YuMi has also had a big impact outside the workplace. Milestones include meeting world leaders Angela Merkel, Barack Obama, and Narendra Modi; conducting an orchestra with Andrea Bocelli in Pisa, Italy; and serving coffee to the public at Selfridges department store in London and Bloomingdale’s in New York.
“YuMi has captured the imagination of the public, appearing in everything from music videos to popular TV shows, doing everything from making paper airplanes to performing card tricks,” said Atiya. “Underlying all of these fun applications is the serious message of how robots like YuMi are helping to change attitudes towards robotic automation. In helping to educate people about how robots can support our work, YuMi has paved the way for robots to be used in workplaces and factory floors worldwide.”
Single-armed model available
To help continue the revolution started with the launch of YuMi, ABB unveiled its single-arm YuMi robot in 2017. ABB said its most agile and compact seven-axis collaborative robot can be mounted on tabletops, wall or ceilings, and it is designed to offer flexibility in an expanding range of applications.
“Over the past five years, both our dual-arm and single-arm YuMi robots have tackled misconceptions that have hindered the adoption of robots, by demonstrating the wide range of benefits they can bring and by making them as easy as possible to use and apply to different types of processes,” said Andie Zhang, global product manager for collaborative robots for ABB Robotics. “Customers tell us that the great thing about YuMi is that people don’t find it intimidating. Because it has human-like features, people feel comfortable next to a YuMi robot.”
“We’ve also found that YuMi tends to be quickly accepted as part of the team when introduced into manual production lines, as it tends to be used for boring and repetitive tasks, freeing the operator to perform more varied and interesting jobs,” she added.
YuMi includes built-in programming functions
The cobot has market-leading lead-through programming function built-in, making it easy for anyone to move the robot arms into required positions for their application. In addition, ABB’s new Wizard easy programming software helps to further simplify the process of creating a robot program, by offering an intuitive, graphical, drag-and-drop interface, which anyone can use without special training.
“With YuMi, users can start small, tackling the tasks that are the quickest and easiest to automate, and then use the experience and confidence they have gained to find ways to apply automation to other parts of their operations. Some customers have even purchased one without a specific application in mind,” added Andie Zhang. “They simply wanted to explore what is possible with collaborative automation with their production team.”