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Lightweight robots incorporate absolute encoders and adjustable safety

Lightweight robots incorporate absolute encoders and adjustable safety
Universal Robots has announced its third generation UR5 and UR10 lightweight robots, incorporating true absolute encoders, eight new adjustable safety rated functions, twice the number of built-in I/O and the improved possibilities for connecting equipment to control boxes. And all this comes with the same ease of use and fast return on investment for which Universal Robots is renowned. Further, while Universal Robots has always offered safe human/robot collaboration, now the safety system in the new generation is certified by TUV. 

The visual appearance of the six-jointed arm remains unchanged, with the UR5 and UR10 offering payloads of 5kg and 10kg respectively. But Universal Robots says this unchanged appearance hides new features and some other hidden surprises inside the robot arm itself, as well as in the controller, drawn from the company's experience with lightweight robot arms in a wide variety of industries. CEO Enrico Krog Iversen comments: "Our R&D department worked hard in order to integrate input and feedback from end users in our product development."

A central innovation of the new generation of UR robots is the True Absolute Encoder. This technical improvement enables a faster startup of the robot arms. The absolute position is recognized right after the switching on, eliminating the need for jogging during initialization of the robot arm. For this reason UR5 and UR10 are now suited for an automatic startup, with no battery needed for this function.

"With the integration of the True Absolute Encoder, our robot arms can be integrated even more easily into other machinery, while start-up also becomes much faster and simpler for all applications," explains Esben H Østergaard, Universal Robots CTO.

Also new is the ability to adjust the safety settings of this latest generation of lightweight robots for each specific solution. The robot arm can run in two operating modes of the safety functions_ a normal and a reduced speed. A switch between safety settings during the robot's operation is also possible. To achieve this, eight safety functions are monitored by the patented safety system: joint positions and speeds, TCP positions, orientation, speed and force, as well as the momentum and power of the robot. The settings can only be changed in a password-protected area. All these safety functions are safety rated PL d and certified by TÜV.

"Our new patented safety concept is a logical development of our previous robot arms", says Østergaard. "The revised UR5 and UR10 can be operated in different modes depending on the context. For example, when a human enters the robots workcell, it can continue to operate in reduced speed mode, and then resume full speed when he leaves again. Or the robot can run full speed inside a CNC machine, and then reduced speed when outside."

The UR Safety 3.0 safety system is certified by TÜV Nord and tested in accordance with EN ISO 13849:2008 PL d and EN ISO 102181:2011, Clause 5.4.3. Sixteen additional digital I/O (which are easy to configure either as digital signals or as safety signals), a revised design of the control box and a rebuilt controller are further improvements.

Universal Robots says the six-jointed, cost-efficient UR5 and UR10 robot arms are especially suited to small and medium sized businesses. Thanks to their light weight and their user-friendly handling via touch pad, a wide range of applications can be programmed quickly without complex training or deep technological knowhow. "With our flexible robotarms, we address a broad target group - whether it is loading or unloading of CNC machines in a ten-man firm or a gluing process at an automotive manufacturer, everyone benefits from our robots. Because they perform the dull or harmful jobs that needed to be done by humans before," says Iversen.

The official release of the next Generation of robots from Universal Robots is planned for September. Universal Robots is at PPMA Stand A108.

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