Linatex, a Danish supplier of technical plastics and rubber for industrial applications, bought a UR5 robot arm from Universal Robots (UR, universal-robots.com) to automate CNC machine tending in December 2008. However, instead of installing the robot behind safety caging, fenced off from people as was the norm, they deployed it right alongside their employees. Linatex was able to program the robot on its own with no prior programming experience. Ten years later, Linatex still uses a UR cobot.
UR co-founder and CTO, Esben Østergaard, delivered the first robot himself after having led a small team through three years of development in a basement at University of Southern Denmark. For his role in developing cobots, he was awarded the Engelberger Award, the “Nobel Prize” of robotics, earlier this year.
He still remembers the early days in 2008 when the small UR team delivered the first UR5s in Denmark and Germany. “10 years might seem like a long time, and it’s definitely been quite a journey; but we’ve only just started to scratch the surface,” said Østergaard. “I continue to see our cobots power new applications that we never imagined when we first launched.”
In 2016 UR launched Universal Robots+, a new platform that leverages the company’s innovative global ecosystem by enabling 3rd party developers to create products – such as grippers, vision systems, software, and other accessories – that are certified to work seamlessly with UR cobots.
And in 2017, Universal Robots Academy was launched to raise robot literacy. It consists of nine free-of-charge interactive modules of online training in mastering programming, set-up and operation of UR cobots.