You might be working with sushi-making and beer pouring robots very soon
These collaborative robots are designed to work with you, not take your job.
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For those who cannot wait for the future robot revolution, some new footage has been released of a set of robots that can make sushi, pour beer, and generally ferry stuff around. The footage comes from the Robot X Manufacturing Expo held annually in Bangkok, which was held on the 19th of June last year.
According to the organizers, Robot X Manufacturing Expo is the most comprehensive event on manufacturing robots, software, solutions, and supporting industries in The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
More than 30 brands from around the world attended the event, which is one of the hottest and growing industrial automation markets in South East Asia.
By far the most notable machine was the Dual-Arm SCARA robot developed by the Japanese firm Kawasaki. This robot is able to create sushi from scratch and even delicately serve the sushi on plates ready for its potential hungry customers. It can even ring a bell once the order is complete.
This robot is multi-functional: it can carry varying maximum loads ranging from 2 to 3 kg per robotic arm. For activities like sushi making, this is more than enough payload to get the job done.
Kawasaki's robot is designed to learn from its human counterparts to be able to perform simple and more complex tasks automatically afterward. The robot can also move around freely; this will prove to be very useful for various applications like working on an assembly line, or apparently, working in a restaurant kitchen.
It even comes with special collision-detection sensors and software that enable the robot to automatically shut down should an accident occur. The robot is also fairly soft in construction, reducing the potential for harm should a robot and human coworker accidentally come into contact.
This robot is designed from the off to be very versatile in order to enable it to provide a range of operations from assembly, material handling, sealing and dispensing, machine tending, and material removal.
Another interesting robot at the event was the Swiss company ABB's barmaid robot. Officially called YuMi, this machine has been specifically designed to be one of the world's first truly collaborative robots.
As shown at the Robot X Manufacturing Expo, YuMi is able to be programmed to pour things like beer and even check the bottle to squeeze out every last drop of its contents before delivery.
YuMi is is, according to ABB, "the world's first truly collaborative robot."
"YuMi was a game-changer and heralded a new era where people and robots safely and productively work side-by-side, without barriers," ABB says.
Much like Kawasaki's Dual-Arm SCARA robot, YuMi is able to provide maximum flexibility to various industrial processes, like assembly lines, that require lots of highly individualized processes in short timescales. Rather than being designed to replace human workers, robots like YuMi are seen more as the ultimate coworker able to work tirelessly and precisely for hours on end.
This will prove to be invaluable when it comes to the more repetitive and laborious tasks in many industries, freeing up human workers for the more novel or delicate tasks at hand. Also like Kawasaki's robot, YuMi is designed to be as safe as possible to remove the traditional physical barriers required to prevent accidental injury with human workers in places like factories.
This, ABB hope will enable a future of collaboration between machine and human never before thought possible. For example, YuMi "is able to perform the motions required in Small Parts Assembly within a very small space while maintaining a human-like reach. This is critical to minimizing the footprint on the factory floor and also makes it possible to install YuMi® into the work stations currently used only by humans."
Other machines at the expo include diminutive robots able to pack products in boxes and ferry them around a warehouse with ease. Yet others included soft grabber machines and a plethora of other machines that seem to show that the future of human-robot collaboration is nothing to be feared.