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What We Learned at RUC 2018 (Before #RUC2019 Arrives)

Alex Owen-Hill
by Alex Owen-Hill. Last updated on Aug 07, 2019 5:41 AM
Posted on Aug 07, 2019 5:26 AM. 6 min read time

The 2019 Robotiq User Conference is just around the corner. Let's look back at 5 key learnings from last year's RUC.

Last year's Robotiq User Conference (RUC) 2018 was filled with some great learning experiences. The attendees learned a lot, both from hands-on training and from the day of keynote presentations that kicked off the event.

This year's conference is set to be filled with just as many important industry insights as the RUC 2018 was. We've updated the format and we've introduced a whole new dimension to the conference.


But, before we look ahead to this year's conference, let's look back at what we learned last year.

5 Key Learnings from RUC 2018

Here are 5 key learnings that we took away from RUC 2018.

1. The cobot market is a mystery

Jeff Burnstein A3Jeff Burnstein Kicks Off With a Cobot Market Mystery.

Right at the start of last years RUC, Jeff Burnstein from A3 revealed to the attendees that the size of the cobot market is really unknown. We've all heard that the market is big and growing, but it turns out that we don't really know how big it is. It's a bit of a mystery.

In his keynote, Jeff cited various reports on the collaborative robotics market. Their contradictory predictions ranged from a market value of $1 billion by 2020 to a value of $9 billion by 2025. However, he wasn't concerned by these contradictions. Overall, he explained, it looks like the cobot market is certainly rising, and that can only be a good thing. Every year, there are more cobot-targeted products, new manufacturers, and new cobot models. This trend certainly seems to have continued since RUC 2018.

Maybe we'll be able to get a more precise picture of the market this year? We'll have to wait to find out at RUC 2019!

2. Cobots might be too safe

Are Cobots Too Safe? Samuel Bouchard and Esben Ostergaard Discuss.

One of the most intriguing conversations at last year's RUC was one between Robotiq's Samuel Bouchard and Esben Østergaard of Universal Robots. Esben felt that the safety of modern cobots is perhaps too high.

He made a comparison of when motor cars (a new technology at the time) were first introduced:

"When cars were introduced in the streets of London in 1862, the government didn't know how to deal with this new, dangerous technology. So it became the law that you had to walk in front of the car with a red flag. I think it's a similar thing that we're going to go through with robots, that we have to start super-conservative, bordering on the ridiculous."

Esben felt that there will be a time when we reduce the safety of cobots as people become more familiar with them. The performance of the machines will then be able to increase.

Since last year's RUC, we've also published an article on how safety levels are decided for cobots, which continues on from Samuel and Esben's discussion. It seems very likely that safety will be discussed a lot at this year's RUC too!

3. A challenge can be too challenging

The technical challenge and sales challenge have been quite an experience over the past two years of the RUC! Last year, some teams stayed up all night programming robots for the 24-hour technical challenge. It was a fun experience and certainly challenging… but perhaps it was too challenging? No team was able to completely finish the whole technical challenge at RUC 2018. Among other factors, this led us to rethink our hands-on work this year.

This year, we are not running a 24-hour technical challenge. Instead, we are incorporating more hands-on learning during the day. By directly tailoring the sessions to the needs of our partners, we hope to boost the learning and make it a more pleasurable experience for everyone involved. 

4. Cobots holding knives can still be safe

Safety came up a few times last year… including a lot of talk about collaborative robots holding knives!

Jeff Burnstein had already talked about unsafe cobots brandishing knives during his keynote earlier in the day. Then, Mark Kahwati of Universal Robots introduced the new safety features from the e-Series robots in his keynote. One of these features was the Safety Tool sphere, which allows you to define a sphere around the tool which acts as a safety plane. So, basically you can give a knife to a collaborative robot and it will still be safe.

The e-Series has now been out for over a year — we first saw it at Automatica 2018 when UR announced it. Over the past year, we've seen the e-Series robots being used more and more. But, at last year's RUC, the platform was brand new and our attendees were some of the first people to really get stuck into the new capabilities of the e-Series robots which UR kindly supplied us for the event.

What new technology will the attendees get to try out this year, I wonder?

5. Hands-on learning really is the most effective

Above all, one of the biggest things we have learned at Robotiq User Conferences in the past (both last year and in previous years) is that hands-on learning really is the most effective. Our attendees in the past have included robot distributors, integrators and end users. All of them have gone away with a much deeper, practical understanding of how they can use collaborative robots to improve their businesses and those of their customers.

This is a learning that we are also applying to this year's RUC. We've got a whole new program of keynotes and practical training sessions for you to look forward to.

ruc reminder (1)

Stay posted for more details about this year's RUC 2019. You can sign up for updates below to receive notifications direct to your email.



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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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