With the recent demise of Rethink Robotics, there were dozens of testimonials that the company revolutionized industrial robotics and kickstarted the collaborative robotics trend. There is no doubt that Baxter and Sawyer were truly innovative and more sophisticated than the average industrial robot. They were also safer than most other cobots, though at the expense of precision. So was Rethink Robotics the pioneer of collaborative robots?
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Six months ago, after the publication of our revelatory feature article regarding the safety of Universal Robots’ UR5 collaborative robot arm, Precise Automation expressed their interest to have their one-of-a-kind PF400 collaborative SCARA robot undergo a similar study in our lab. The company claims that the PF400 is “intrinsically safe since all of the forces generated by its axes are limited so that the robot cannot hurt a user even if it collides with them at full speed.” I asked one of our undergraduate students to test the demo unit that we received on loan. So does he think we should leave the PF400 fenceless?
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