Drives and Controls Magazine
Graphical software allows novices to program cobots
Published:  06 May, 2020

ABB has announced a graphical programming aid for its single-arm YuMi cobot (collaborative robot) that allows users with no prior knowledge of robot programming to create programs quickly without needing specialised training.

The Wizard programming tool is based on Google's Blockly open-source visual coding system that presents programming languages or code as interlocking blocks. Users simply drag-and-drop functions on the robot’s FlexPendant, seeing the results immediately and adjusting the robot’s actions within seconds. The Wizard is pre-installed on all new FlexPendants and can be retrofitted to earlier pendants.

“We’ve reduced the learning curve for new users,” says ABB’s global product manager for collaborative robotics, Andie Zhang. “This will help reduce the cost, time and skills required to implement collaborative automation in a wide range of workplaces, which may lack a dedicated engineering or automation programming resource.”

Combined with the YuMi robot’s existing lead-through programming method, the new technique is said to help any robot user to develop effective robot programs. It offers functions such as “move”, “pick” and “vacuum”, as well as functions for error handling, allowing novice programmers to avoid problems such as collisions..

ABB’s Wizard programming tool allows non-experts to program its single-arm YuMi cobots

The Wizard programming is converted into ABB’s Rapid programming language in real time. This means that complex robot programs, such assembly tasks, can be created by skilled programmers and turned into Wizard programs for use by novice programmers.

• ABB has also produced an add-on for its RobotStudio offline programming and simulation software that allows users to commission and control Scara robots directly from a PC or laptop. The Robot Control Mate add-on allows users to jog, teach and calibrate robots, and to control the movements of a robot in real-time. The add-on also makes it possible to program robots without needing a pendant. It is available initially for ABB’s IRB 910INV ceiling-mounted robot before being expanded to other ABB robots later this year.

RobotStudio provides a digital twin of physical assets or systems on production lines. The offline programming tool can be used to create, simulate and test robot installations in virtual 3D without disrupting production lines. New production lines can be installed faster and ramped up to full speed without any surprises during commissioning.