It looks like Yaskawa’s Motoman, pi4robotics’ Workerbot, and Kawada Industries’ NEXTAGE may have some serious competition in the dual-arm robot manufacturing sector. ABB, a powerful Swiss automation company, has designed a new concept robot called FRIDA (Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-arm Assembly) that can work safely alongside people. It’s remarkably small and lightweight compared to the other robots in its category. In fact, it can be mounted on a standard workbench or hung from a wall, and can be carried by its handle! For improved safety it is covered in soft padding, has internal wiring, and lacks pinch points that can potentially trap fingers. It also has limited power and speed, meaning it won’t break your arm if it accidentally elbows you. Each arm has 7 degrees of freedom and an end effector with fingers and suction that can manipulate small parts. Programming is made easier thanks to automatic collision detection software that prevents the robot from moving in such a way that it could damage itself.
Shown for the first time at the Hannover Messe earlier this month, ABB has yet to reveal details like FRIDA’s price, stressing that it is only a concept robot for the time being. In the meantime, ABB has produced enough prototypes to perform some usability tests that will determine FRIDA’s future.