Meet YuMi, your new robot coworker who has your safety at heart

The rise of the robots has begun – and one of them landed this week in Dubai. Don’t worry, though, this is not a Terminator-style uprising – the mechanoid in question, is our friend. Known as “YuMi”, it is described as the world’s first “human-safe” robotic co-worker, one that will do all that really boring, […]

The rise of the robots has begun – and one of them landed this week in Dubai.

Don’t worry, though, this is not a Terminator-style uprising – the mechanoid in question, is our friend.

Known as “YuMi”, it is described as the world’s first “human-safe” robotic co-worker, one that will do all that really boring, repetitive work none of us human beings want to do.

YuMi can assemble mobile phones, wrap gifts, draw and write, make a paper plane, hand out invitations at the door and, if programmed right, even pull off some awkward dance moves with its long, rotating, twisting arms.

Targeted at the manufacturing industry, YuMi made its Middle Eastern debut in Dubai yesterday at the Armani Hotel Burj Khalifa as a star attraction at The internet of Things 2016 conference.

YuMi demonstrated its capacity for “human friendliness” by stopping all movement whenever it felt the slightest touch, thanks to sensors placed along its arms. this makes it safe to work next to a human.

“The new era of robotic coworkers is here,” says Aki Maenpaa, local division manager of Discrete Automation and Motion of ABB (ASEA Brown Boveri), Gulf area.

Made by ABB, a Swedish-Swiss multinational corporation that has operated mainly in the field of robotics for almost 30 years, YuMi – which stands for “You and Me” – was launched at last year’s Hannover Messe. Costing about US$50,000 (Dh183,637), the exact price depends on the specifications each customer requires.

The robot can be programmed to do almost anything related to “lightweight assembly” – it can carry objects weighing up to 500 grams and has a reach that extends 500mm.

“It is quite user-friendly, where you can programme it to do repetitive, boring tasks that humans would not want to do,” says Maenpaa. “It can go on and on and on, with the regular maintenance required for any piece of machinery.”

There are plenty of robots already operating in heavy-duty manufacturing industries and factories – including car makers and even in food and beverage factories. They don’t look much like the sci-fi movie robots who end up rebelling and taking over the world in retaliation of years of hard labour.

What makes YuMi different, is that it is said to be completely “safe” for humans.

“The typical robot can’t recognise there is a problem,” says Maenpaa. “For instance, if there is any human touch of any kind, [YuMi] pauses instantly, where the typical assembly robot will continue doing what it is programmed to do.

“It is a great tool to use when trying to diversify an economy and enter new industrial and manufacturing fields.”

Weighing just 38 kilograms, the robot’s arms have multiple flexible rotating points, allowing them to twist, move as fast or slow as is required and avoid crushing delicate objects.

When a camera is installed, YuMi can even be programmed to recognise what goes where if given a pile of objects to sort. It can even make coffee.

The potential applications seem limitless but for now, the company is targeting the electronics and other small-parts industries, from making watches and toys to automotive components.

“It can also work in hazardous environments where it is not safe for a human to work,” says Maenpaa.

If you would like to meet YuMi – and even programming a few moves – you can check it out until end of May at the ABB office at Aldar’s pearl-shaped building in Abu Dhabi.

In other news at the conference, it was estimated that by 2020, inter-device connections will be more than five times the level of human-to-human connections, completely transforming business and society to groundbreaking new levels, a movement many experts predict will be the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

“What was regarded as sci-fi yesterday might very well become reality faster than we think,” says group chief executive Johan Ehrstrom, from the event organiser Content Group International.

“The exponentially growing amount of connected devices will so radically change the grounds for some businesses that it simply cannot be let unexplored without jeopardising the market share or even market existence.”

rghazal@thenational.ae

Source: art & life

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