AI News, ABB's FRIDA Offers Glimpse of Future Factory Robots

ABB's FRIDA Offers Glimpse of Future Factory Robots

Its name is FRIDA, and it's a creation of ABB, the Swiss power and automation giant, which introduced it early this month at the Hannover trade show, Europe's largest industrial fair.

This barrier to entry has kept small and medium companies 'robot-less' -- at a time when robots, more than ever, could boost productivity and ameliorate labor shortages.

Other companies seeking to explore this new market for assembly robots include Motoman, a division of Japan's Yaskawa, which offers a dual-arm robot called Motoman SDA10D, and the German automation firm pi4_robotics, which early this year unveiled the Workerbot, also a dual-arm robot.

Like FRIDA, the SDA10D and Workerbot are designed for assembly applications, but they are larger than the ABB robot and thus require more safety precautions (for example, fencing or sensor safeguarding) when operating near people.

It says FRIDA fits into spaces used by people and could be 'easily interchanged with a human coworker when the production order is changed or a new layout is required.'

Look Out Humans – This FRIDA Robot From ABB Will Take Your Factory Job

Swiss robotics giant ABB recently unveiled a new concept robot that showcases how the company is aiming to have humanoid machines work side by side with people in manufacturing environments.

Roughly the size of a small human, FRIDA can perform many of the same tasks as a two-armed person, yet its servos are gentle enough, and its sensors smart enough, to keep it from causing injury to any biological coworkers that run into it.

FRIDA, which stands for Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-arm Assembly, represents what most industrial robots aren’t: light weight, padded, adaptable to multiple assembly lines, human-safe, human-sized, human-shaped, and (supposedly) inexpensive.

It has the same basic shape and range as a small adult, the same number of degrees of freedom in its arms, and can be connected to vision cameras to give it optical awareness as well.

This new approach is suited to the areas where traditional industrial robotics have yet to infiltrate: low-capital small scale manufacturers whose products are labor intensive and not easily automated at every stage.

like memory card assembly.) If FRIDA can successfully conquer this niche it will be opening up a huge number of new businesses (or parts of businesses) to automation, which is why it’s so understandable that ABB is pursuing this avenue of research.

While ABB, and the robotics industry as a whole, sees this progress as job creating and economically positive (by increasing productivity and keeping manufacturing local), the debate over automation rages on.

Meet Frida, The Robot That’ll Staff The 24-Hour Production Line

Frida’s arms have almost the same extension as a small-sized person, and while their dexterity is designed to match how human joints move, it can obviously surpass human motion limits at will–no person can spin their wrist 720 degrees, at least not outside the bounds of a horrible industrial accident.

ABB has made an effort to note it doesn’t see robots like Frida stealing jobs in the future–it’s designed to work alongside people, and could be very useful when a production line process changes and a reprogrammed robot could be retrained faster than a human worker.

But it’s easy to see a future in which robots like Frida drop in price and increase in intelligence to the point they actually do replace humans on production lines, since they can also work 24-hour shifts, won’t go on strike, or cause other social problems.

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