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Two Handed Robots Are Better Than One

April 13, 2011

Back in the late 1970’s when I was first involved with the introduction of industrial robots on the West Coast, I used to do a lot of dog & pony shows on the new technology. My favorite industrial film, that I showed as part of my presentations to engineers and manufacturing companies, was from Unimation the Connecticut based robot pioneering firm.

One of the best parts of the film showed a prototype two armed assembly robot that was blazingly fast and accurate. However, controlling two arms and maintaining precision in a real-world factory application was well beyond the controller and mechanical technology of the day.

Here we are thirty plus years later when most of us technology pundits expected robots to be ubiquitous in “lights-out” production plants and doing most of the drudge work around the home and in the field. And yet today we are pleased to see that ABB has introduced a new concept dual-arm assembly robot.

Sometimes things take a whole lot longer than than we expect. Especially when you need to touch the real world as opposed to IT automation and the Internet where you push, pull and process data. In any case, here’s a cool new machine from ABB, the Swiss GE, who was an early entrant into robotics and is a global powerhouse.

FRIDA the  Dual-Arm Assembly Robot

FRIDA is not a product. It is ABB’s concept robot for research in small part assembly. FRIDA stands for Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-Arm Assembly. The robot is inherently safe, which means that it can work next to people without safeguarding. It has been unveiled at the Hannover Fair 2011. More info and see a cool video about FRIDA

Please don’t confuse ABB’s FRIDA with ABBA’s Frida

ABB is a Swiss-Swedish multinational corporation headquartered in Zürich, Switzerland, operating mainly in the power and automation technology areas. It ranked 143rd in Forbes Ranking (2010).

ABB is one of the largest engineering companies as well as one of the largest conglomerates in the world. ABB has operations in around 100 countries, with approximately 124,000 employees, and reported global revenue of $31.6 billion for 2010.

ABB founded in Switzerland in 1891 introduced its first industrial robot in 1978. ABB is a leading supplier of industrial robots, modular manufacturing systems and service.  ABB has installed more than 190,000 robots worldwide.

ABB’s history goes back to the late nineteenth century. ASEA was incorporated by Ludwig Fredholm in 1883 and Brown, Boveri & Cie (BBC) was formed in 1891 in Baden, Switzerland, by Charles Eugene Lancelot Brown and Walter Boveri as a Swiss group of electrical companies producing AC and DC motors, generators, steam turbines and transformers.

See ABB company timeline

You can see another interesting advanced dual-arm robot developed by the Silicon Valley tech wizards at Willow Garage

And let’s not forget NASA’s spacebound two armed Robonaut

Now, wave goodbye FRIDA. You’ve been a Long Time Coming

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