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Universal Robots and Robotiq Kick-Off Automatica

Alex Owen-Hill
by Alex Owen-Hill. Last updated on Jun 30, 2016 9:20 AM
Posted on Jun 21, 2016 7:38 AM. 5 min read time

This morning we kicked off Automatica 2016, as the first press conference of the week! It was held at 10:30am this morning. Even though it was early, there was a great turn out and several interesting questions were asked by the attendees.

Press_Conference_2.jpgHelmut Schmid, Universal Robots General Manager for Western Europe, presented the exciting new Universal Robots+ for the very first time. 

We've had a great experience with Universal Robots + recently, as we have been working closely with it to integrate our brand new Robotiq Camera, which we announced at 10am this morning. So, we were very happy to able to have the press conference together. The UR booth is right next to ours, in Hall B5 Booth 518.

There was also a live stream of the conference which was broadcast on the Universal Robots website. We will post a video of the press conference here very shortly.

The UR-Robotiq Press Conference In-Brief

Helmut gave the presentation in German, as most of the attendees were from the German press. Unfortunately, my German is a little rusty. However, the slides were in English. You can find a full video of the press conference below.

Universal Robots +

The main topic of the presentation was Universal Robots +. Helmut said “With Universal Robots+, we create an unmatched win-win-win situation, benefitting the developer community, our distribution partners and our end customers.”

The UR+ is a Plug & Play application library for a whole range of robotic hardware, including the Robotiq Force-Torque Sensor, the Robotiq 2-Finger Gripper, the Robotiq 3-Finger Gripper and our brand new Robotiq Camera.

UR+ allows manufacturers, like Robotiq, to get our URCaps "Certified By Universal Robots" (URCaps refer to software or hardware products which extend UR functionality). This is an assurance to customers that the product has been completely integrated for Universal Robots.

"By integrating the accessory components showcased at the Universal Robots+ showroom, our distribution partners and end users reduce spending on application development and testing when they deploy the URCaps as simple Plug & Play solutions." said Helmut. "In short, Universal Robots+ is easy access to efficient, well-proven, and safe automation solutions that we elevate to the next level by collaborating with a crucial component: the developers of today and tomorrow."

He also announced a key update to the UR robot operating software (Version 3.3), which introduces support to the Universal Robots + platform. He said: "A key feature of the software update is the ability for providers to now offer solutions that interface seamlessly with the UR software."

You can now browse UR+ on the Universal Robots website.


Helmut also introduced the +YOU developer program. This is is a unique program which provides access to the "eco-system" of UR developers. It gives both support and marketing opportunities to the community of developers, like us, making it easy to develop add-ons for UR robots. 

“The participants in the developer program +YOU will receive free support from Universal Robots when developing URCaps." said Helmut. 

Stefan Tøndering Stubgaard, Manager of Universal Robots’ Corporate Technical Support, provided some more details on how this works for developers.

“When developers have received our approval for designing within Universal Robots+, we will support them via our local subsidiaries by providing robots for testing and optimizing URCaps. On request, robots can also be purchased at a reduced price, given that they will be used exclusively for the development and testing of new UR-related components.”

“Before a new product can be presented in our showroom, we verify its quality. In comprehensive functionality tests, we test whether the cababilities can be implemented and operated easily and if the product conforms to Universal Robots’ quality requirements.”

Showing off the UR Demos

Here's a short video where he is showing viewers the function of a UR teach pendant. In this demo, he showed how easy it is to program an action with the system. A second demo showed the output of a camera to the teach pendant, which is the functionality we use with our Robotiq Camera.Helmut made great use of the live video stream. He gave the online viewers an exclusive look at two of the Universal Robot demos. Perhaps you were watching?

But where's the demo of the new Robotiq Camera!? I hear you ask. You'll have to wait until tomorrow to see that! We have an exclusive video lined up for our blog readers.

Full Video of the Press Conference

Here's a video of the whole press conference, kindly supplied to us by our friends at UR. 


Interesting Questions from the Attendees.

Sam_Answering_Questions_cropped.jpgMost of the questions from attendees were in German and directed at Helmut.

One gentleman asked about Cloud and Online services, reminding us of one of the big themes of this year's Automatica: Industry 4.0.

A couple of interesting questions were directed towards Samuel, which I'd like to share with you here.

How long does it take to integrate a product into UR+?

One attendee asked about the integration time for new products into UR+. Samuel felt that it really depends on the type of integration. For the Robotiq Gripper, integration into UR+ took about one month of development. For the Robotiq Camera, the integration was longer. Also, Samuel was keen to note that we have had a lot of great support from the UR team. Our experience of developing with them has been great.

How easy is it to motivate 3rd parties to join the UR network?

Another attendee asked if it is difficult to motivate 3rd parties to join the "UR eco-system." As Robotiq are ourselves a 3rd party, we felt confident in replying -  it is not difficult at all! Samuel reminded the attendees that Universal Robots is a rapidly growing market. If you are a manufacturer like us and you have a good product, then developing for UR+ means you can easily get access to a growing market of UR users.

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Alex Owen-Hill
Written by Alex Owen-Hill
Alex Owen-Hill is a freelance writer and public speaker who blogs about a large range of topics, including science, presentation skills at, storytelling and (of course) robotics. He completed a PhD in Telerobotics from Universidad Politecnica de Madrid as part of the PURESAFE project, in collaboration with CERN. As a recovering academic, he maintains a firm foot in the robotics world by blogging about industrial robotics.
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