ABB, PAL Robotics showcase mobile manipulator

The PAL TIAGo AMR integrates with the ABB Yumi collaborative robot arm. | Image credit: PAL Robotics

When ABB opened its healthcare research hub on the Texas Medical Center (TMC) campus in Houston, it showcased a number of concept technologies, including a mobile YuMi robot that assists with laboratory and logistics tasks in hospitals. ABB is taking this mobile manipulation concept a step further by collaborating with PAL Robotics at a new lab near Barcelona, Spain.

PAL Robotics’ TIAGo Base is an autonomous mobile robot designed to be deployed for indoor mobility applications where infrastructure-free navigation is required. With the addition of an ABB YuMi robot, this collaborative mobile robot is designed to deliver samples of blood in a medical setting, in place of other robotic platforms that are not small enough to fulfill this role.

The two-armed Yumi cobot is designed to work alongside humans. | Image credit: ABB Robotics

The medical lab application is called “mobot for healthcare in hospital laboratories.” It is being developed in collaboration with PAL Robotics to introduce mobility in medical center laboratories. The mobile manipulator performs pipetting and tube handling tasks, being able to move and transport the elements thanks to the mobile platform that gives YuMi the capacity for autonomous navigation and obstacle avoidance.

ABB introduced Yumi in 2015. The Yumi product line has evolved since that time and now includes both a single- and double-armed cobot.

The TIAGo Base robot can be configured for any applications in healthcare, industry or office environments. TIAGo Base is able to handle a payload of up to 100 kg for delivering objects and moves at speeds of up to 1.5 m/s.

“We often receive customer inquiries on whether our cobots can be placed on mobile bases to carry out applications that require the collaborative robot to serve multiple locations or move around the working environment, such as transporting components,” said Andie Zhang, global product manager of collaborative robots at ABB Robotics. “Therefore the idea was born to do a feasibility study to put one of our cobots on a mobile base and see how it would look and what application demos we can create with it.”

Andie continued, “as for the user experience of the TIAGo Base, the functions we experienced were easy to use, for example it was very easy to drive the robot around using the joystick and use the laser scanner to scan its environment to create a map. The web-based user interface is easy to connect to and easy to operate with. We were also impressed with the payload of this relatively small TIAGo Base mobile robot, it was able to carry around 100 kg of payload including the frame and our robot manipulator and controller.”

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