Universal Robots Celebrates 10 Years of Selling First Cobot

When Linatex bought a UR5 robot arm from Universal Robots to automate CNC machine tending in December 2008, the company deployed it right alongside its employees.


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When Linatex, a Danish supplier of technical plastics and rubber for industrial applications, bought a UR5 robot arm from Universal Robots (UR) to automate CNC machine tending in December 2008, they did something unthinkable. Instead of installing the robot behind safety caging, fenced off from people as was the norm for all industrial robots, they deployed it right alongside their employees. And instead of bringing in external programmers to master complex scripting, Linatex was able to program the robot on their own with no prior programming experience.

Today, 10 years later, Linatex still uses a cobot from Universal Robots. UR’s 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 pioneering role in developing cobots, he was awarded the Engelberger Award, the “Nobel Prize” of robotics, earlier this year.

Cobots are now the fastest-growing segment of industrial automation, expected to jump ten-fold to 34 percent of all industrial robot sales by 2025, according to the Robotic Industries Association (RIA). As a first mover, UR has kept its market leader position with a 60 percent global share of the cobot market, according to BIS Research, selling more cobots than all competitors combined.

As the cobot market is experiencing an increasing number of competitors—both from the established industrial players and start-ups—it is vital to keep ahead of the curve, UR says. In June 2018, the company launched a brand-new generation of its cobots, the e-Series, which is a platform that raises the standard for collaborative robots, and enables even faster solution development and deployment of a wider variety of applications.

“As manufacturers increasingly embrace cobots, we see the need to support even more demanding applications with more accuracy and tool integration. Launching the e-Series will help us continue propelling cobots forward into new applications benefiting companies of all sizes,” Mr. Østergaard says. Last year the company grew 72 percent, and earlier this year the company marked its 25,000th cobot sale by delivering a limited edition in gold. To date, the company has sold more than 27,000 cobots around the world.