In the last blog, we discussed the game-changing capabilities of Cage Free collaborative robot (cobot) designs, such as that of the Universal Robots 6-axis robot, and what this could mean for manufacturers. It would make sense that such an advanced technology would require some advanced programming, but in the case of the UR5 (UR5 AE3) and UR 10, this couldn’t be further from the truth. The UR industrial robots come standard with two ways to program them. First is through a very intuitive Teach Mode, which is the focus of this article. Second is through a full-featured scripting language.
Teach Mode and Intuitive Programming
In full disclosure, when I heard about Universal Robots’s Teach Mode, I was very skeptical. As someone who has been supporting, selling, and teaching others to sell and support motion control and robotics for close to 20 years, I have heard more claims about the latest and greatest ‘easy to program’ controller more times than I care to recount. The fact that I have this experience doesn’t actually mean I am an expert at programming; as matter of fact I could be classified as ‘programming challenged’! The good part of being “challenged,” is that I believe I qualify as an excellent judge of what is “easy to program” and what isn’t.
My programming litmus test for verifying that a solution is “easy to program” is to see if I can successfully program and commission an automation solution that includes a programmable controller without having to refer to a user manual. If I can do that, then it really is easy to program. Up until this point, the disappointing results are that no single solution can fully claim the Andy Larson Award for Being Easy.
It’s a more difficult challenge than it initially appears because I take into account the whole process: from start to finish. This includes:
- Setting up the controller (which is half the battle of most solutions)
- Programming a real life industrial application, such as a pick and place
- Having the robot run without errors
Finally! A Breakthrough!
I can now report, for the first time in my career, that I have been able to program and commission an industrial controller without the use of any reference material! Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Polyscope Graphical User Interface from Universal Robots. It not only sounds impressive, it actually is impressive (almost as impressive as the collaborative technology!).
Now, I know what you are thinking, “Well sure Andy, after all of these years of hacking away at different controllers, maybe you finally got the hang of it.”
I wish I could say that was the case – it would have saved me so much time! To prove to myself, and hopefully to you, that the Universal Robot Collaborative Cage Free 6-axis robot really is easy to program, I drafted our intrepid Inbound Marketer, Andrew Abernathy who is helping me with these blogs, to be the real test case. Feel free to check out Andrew’s credentials, he is a bona fide Marketing genius, but he has absolutely no background in industrial controls programming, much less, in 6-axis robot programming.
(Editor’s Note: I am no genius, but I do strongly believe in the power of blogging to share information and create consumer trust! I also had absolutely, ZERO experience with robotics or engineering, nor had I spent a single minute with the UR5 [UR5 AE3] prior to the video.)
With this in mind, I invited Andrew to our Belmont office to put the Universal Robot Teach Mode to the test. To keep everybody honest, we captured this on video (all in one take) and would encourage you to take a look for yourself. I considered detailing out the procedure for programming the collaborative 6-axis robot solutions, but the video says it all. For those that need an industrial robot that can be programmed and commissioned quickly, without the need for a robotics ‘wizard’, a third party, or sending someone to weeks of classes, this new generation collaborative robotic solution could be for you.