Top collaborative robots (cobots) available in the market in 2020

Until recently, robots have always been big and robust devices, designed to complete specific tasks. They were kept in cages and surrounded by guards for safety purposes. Their bright color was a warning for workers nearby about the danger they represented. Besides, it took a lot of programming skills just to set up these robots.

But, a new kind of robot has emerged in today’s industrial world, challenging our preconceived notion about robotics. Its main feature is the ability to work safely alongside humans.

Called collaborative robots, they have security features such as integrated sensors, passive compliance, or detection of overcurrent. The built-in sensors will feel external forces and lead the robot to stop its movement if this force is too high. If an outside force acts on a joint, that joint will submit to that force. So in the event of a collision, the joint will move in the opposite direction or completely stop to prevent injury.

Moreover, most collaborative robots can learn from demonstrations and can be brought on-line much more quickly. The majority of collaborative robots can move around the factory floor to perform a different task at another station. In short, collaborative robots are an ideal new co-worker. In this post, we will list some of the popular collaborative robots available in the market.

YuMi – ABB

YuMi is a popular cobot by leading robot manufacturer ABB. This two-arm ultra-high-tech robot uses a wide variety of tools: cameras, a two-finger parallel gripper, and a suction cup, attached to enhance the robot’s functionality. YuMi is specially designed to assemble small electronic devices. Very easy to program, it can handle a small payload of 0.5 kg per arm.

i5 – Aubo

i5 by Aubo is a very promising, stand-alone robot that can be programmed using ROS. There are several apps available for purchase to make the programming more easier. The robot can be configured from 3 to 7 joints.

APAS – Bosch

APAS is one of the first collaborative robots to be certified as inherently safe by the German trade association. The APAS assistant is a Fanuc lightweight robot covered with a sensitive skin. The robot can instantly feel an abnormal impact and stop itself immediately, making it a lot safer. It can be attached with a 2D or 3D camera, or a three-finger gripper.

AURA – Comau

AURA by industrial robot manufacturer Comau also comes up with an industrial robot covered with a safety skin to increase its “collaborative” capabilities. At a 110 kg payload, the cobot has handled the biggest payload out there. Not only does the robot have a safety skin; it has proximity and tactile sensors embedded in its skin so it can prevent impact and retract depending on the intensity of the impact.

CR 4iA – Fanuc

CR 4iA is a smaller version of Fanuc’s initial CR 35iA with a larger payload. It’s a lightweight robot with all the same safety features as its predecessor. The CR 4iA uses all the features of an industrial lightweight robot, but besides, it is safe for its human co-workers. An external soft skin and a force-torque sensor at the base of the robot make it entirely safe for collaborative purposes. CR 4iA is designed to use the iRVision software paired with a wrist camera.

CR 7iA & CR 7IA/L – Fanuc

The CR 7iA is Fanuc’s mid-range collaborative robot, and it’s a robot with a practical range and payload. The CR 7iA and CR 7iA/L have all the same features as the industrial LR Mate 200iD robot, but besides, they are safe for their human co-workers. External soft skin and a force-torque sensor make the robots completely safe for collaborative purposes. The CR 7iA and CR 7iA/L are designed to use the iRVision software paired with a wrist camera.

CR 35IA – Fanuc

The CR 35iA is one of the biggest collaborative robots on the market, and it has a 35 kg payload. It’s built over a traditional industrial robot, but its safety features make it safer than any other big robot out there. The CR 35iA is positioned on a highly sensitive force-torque sensor that monitors every movement of the robot and can easily detect any abnormal impact. A single tap of a finger can stop the robot, including while it’s carrying a large payload. Besides, the soft rubber skin makes it even safer. The CR 35iA is designed to use the iRVision software paired with a wrist camera.

PROB 2R – F&P Personal Robotics

The PRob 2R robots are lightweight robots, designed for personal robotics but can be used for industrial applications as well. The main difference between the two PRob 2R models is the current needed to power them. The 24V version is inherently safe and can be used in personal robotics applications. The 48V version is built with different actuators that can deliver a bit more power for industrial applications. In both cases, the robots are classified as safe for use alongside humans. The robots can be fitted with a two-finger gripper that is also inherently safe. The robots can be programmed directly on a PC (using myP software) with a user-friendly interface. These robots are fully padded and have very safe grippers.

EMIKA – Franka

The EMIKA by Franka is an all-inclusive collaborative robot that comes with a robot arm, a wrist camera, a two-finger gripper, and an intuitive PC interface. One cool feature of the robot is the “Franka Pilot,” which is a physical interface on a joint of the robot that enables super easy programming. A lot of apps can also be added in the robot routine to do tasks such as screwing or palletizing.

NEXTAGE – Kawada Industries

NEXTAGE by Kawada Industries has been on the market for quite a long time. This human-like robot, mainly sold in Asia, is well suited for fine manipulations and has 15 degrees of freedom. With two arms with six axes each, one rotating waist, and two rotating axes for its neck, it is a very versatile robot that can perform highly complex tasks. The robot can be bought with a two-finger parallel gripper and a 2D wrist camera. It comes with a stereo vision system embedded in the ‘’head’’ of the robot. The robot’s motors are limited to 80W, which makes it very safe.

LBR IIWA – KUKA

The LBR IIWA series has been at the top of the list of collaborative robot technology for a couple of years now. With an excellent power to weight ratio, the LBR IIWA has highly sensitive force-torque sensors at each joint. As opposed to other force limited robots that read the current in their motor, the LBR has sensors that detect micro impacts. The LBR IIWA series also have internal routing for pneumatic and electrical devices. You can fit a device on the robot and connect it in its wrist, and no wires will be visible. These robots are stand-alone; they do not have grippers or other devices that can be fitted directly on them.

CORO – Life Robotics

The CORO by LIFE ROBOTICS is a robot with a telescopic arm that allows you to remove one joint while keeping the same versatility. The robot is inherently safe so that it can be introduced right beside workers. This robot arm has been sold only on the Asian market and has found a good fit in the electronic assembly line, cosmetics, and food industries. The robot can be programmed by demonstration.

SPEEDY 6 & 12 – MABI

Collaborative robot models SPEEDY 6 & 12 by Swiss company MABI, which has quite a strong background in machine tending and other industrial applications, are designed for high-speed applications that require precision. The Speedy series features built-in absolute encoders at each joint that achieve higher accuracy and repeatability along the way. In contrast to other robots that have relative encoders, the Speedy is more accurate. The robots can be bought with three different packages: Basic, Professional, and Advanced.

HC10 – Motoman/Yaskawa

The HC10 is the first collaborative platform by Motoman/Yaskawa, who has been in the robotics world for a long time. In contrast to other large robot manufacturers, they built an entirely new robot that is safe for human-robot interactions. The robot has excellent features that allow most of the end-effectors to be connected within its hollow wrist. It means no cable management outside the robot. Also, Yaskawa has put a ton of effort into their programming interface. Unlike the offerings of some other leading robot manufacturers, this robot is truly user-friendly.

KR 5 SI – MRK SYSTEM

The KR 5 SI by MRK SYSTEM was developed differently from most other collaborative robots. Robot manufacturers usually design cobots. But this time, MRK System acts as a robot integrator. They built their collaborative robot concept over a KUKA industrial robot (KR 5 HW ARC). As with some other collaborative robots, the KR 5 SI has an industrial robot hardware and is covered with a soft tactile and capacitive skin to sense any abnormal impacts. The robot is monitored by KUKA SafeRobot software. The robot can prevent impact because of proximity sensors embedded in the sensitive skin. The end effector can also be covered with a protective skin to enable better protection of the worker.

PAVP6 – Precise Automation

PAVP6 is a super lightweight robot from Precise Automation, which is ideal for small applications alongside workers. The PAVP6 is a Denso robot arm frame that has been modified for collaborative operations. The robot has an integrated controller at its base and also has absolute encoders. The robot can be taught by demonstration using a PC or a tablet.

PF400 – Precise Automation

PF400 is another super lightweight SCARA robot from Precise Automation, which is ideal for small collaborative applications requiring flexibility, such as in the laboratory. The PF400 is easy to integrate since it has an embedded controller that can simply be plugged directly into an AC power cord. It can be carried by a single person and installed on a table. The SCARA robot can be programmed using a teaching method and has an embedded vision system.

PP100 – Precise Automation

PP100 is a super lightweight cartesian robot from Precise Automation that is ideal for small collaborative applications requiring flexibility, such as in the laboratory. The PP100 is easy to integrate since it has an embedded controller that can simply be plugged directly into an AC power cord. It can be carried by a single person and installed on a table. The cartesian robot can be programmed by a teaching method.

OB7 – Productive Robotics

OB7 by Productive Robotics, one of the very few robotics company that is entirely manufacturing out of the United States, a very versatile and easy to use robot with a bunch of built-in options. It not only has 7 degrees of freedom but also has an integrated camera, an optional 2-finger gripper, and light indicators. The robot can be programmed using the built-in software and comes with a one-year hardware warranty and a one-year software update.

BAXTER – Rethink Robotics

BAXTER, one of the first collaborative robots in the market, was designed to be inherently safe using the harmonic drive and elastic power transmission. The concept was quite simple: 2 arms, head, a torso, and a rolling base. The bulky robot is entirely able to work alongside humans without hurting them; with its slow moves, padded arms, and smiley face, it wouldn’t hurt a fly. BAXTER is now a bit outdated compared to the later, smaller version, SAWYER.

SAWYER – Rethink Robotics

SAWYER by RETHINK ROBOTICS was designed around the Baxter platform, but this version is better suited to the industrial world. The single-armed robot now has less backlash, a larger payload, and much better repeatability. Because of its internal design, both Sawyer and Baxter are highly safe to use alongside humans. In addition to the peripheral vision system placed on its “head” and the screen that lets you know the state of the robot, there are very few risks to working around this robot. The Sawyer robot has an embedded wrist camera and can be fitted with suction cups and a parallel gripper. The robot is compliant and adapts itself to the environment due to its high-resolution force sensing at each joint.

TX2-60 and TX2-60L – STÄUBLI

TX2-60 and TX2-60L by STÄUBLI, a large industrial robot manufacturer based in Germany, are two collaborative robots with a small payload. The TX2 series is designed to do fast and precise automation tasks while working beside humans. In contrast to other collaborative robots that have a bulky look, this one has a sleek industrial appearance and seems to deliver the same safety features as the other robots. The robots are stand-alone, meaning they don’t have optional end-effectors. The two robots are the same, except the TX2-60L has a bigger reach and a slightly smaller payload.

TM5-700 and TM5-900 – Techman

Techman’s first collaborative robots, the TM5-700 and TM5-900, have an embedded camera at their wrists and a compatible two-finger parallel gripper. They are inherently safe and can be programmed directly from a smartphone. It’s pretty much like plugging a dongle on the smartphone and just add a couple of components, and the robot is ready to use.

UR3 – Universal Robots

The UR3, the smallest platform by Universal Robots, a leader in the collaborative robot world, has a light payload perfectly suited for lightweight assembly or dispensing applications. The UR3 is the only robot arm in the Universal Robots product line with an infinite wrist rotation. These robots are easy to program, especially with the path recording features available with Robotiq Force Torque Sensors.

UR5 – Universal Robots

The UR5 is the intermediate platform of Universal Robots, and to date, has been the company’s best seller. This arm is made for all types of applications. In fact, with such an enormous payload and reach, the robot can suit a lot of different ‘human-like’ applications. The UR5 has made its mark in machine tending and other industrial applications where reliability and return on investment are essential. The robot also benefits from the UR+ solution. The UR5 has been designed to perform industrial applications, scaled to human size.

UR10 – Universal Robots

Universal Robots’ UR10 is an extremely versatile industrial collaborative robot arm with its high payload (10 kg) and long reach capability. Its 1300 mm span width of workspace without compromising precision or performance of the payload. UR10 addresses a wide range of machine tending, palletizing, and packaging applications.

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