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Mitsubishi Electric Enters the Cobot Market
Chris Fox posted on June 03, 2000彩 |
Arm reaches almost a meter, carries 5kg, costing $34,000.
  (Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric.)
(Image courtesy of Mitsubishi Electric.)

Let’s be honest, cobots are the future. While their place in the market of industrial robots is still being settled, it can’t be denied that cobots, or collaborative robots, are here to stay. And, they are becoming more manufacturing-friendly, meaning they are getting easier to implement into any given workflow and are starting to drop in price.

Take Mitsubishi Electric’s new MELFA ASSISTA series of cobots. The first of which is the 6-axis RV-5AS-D, offering positioning accuracies down to ±0.02mm (0.007in), a reach of 900mm (35in) and a payload of 5kg (11lbs).

The real advantage of cobots is their ease of use, and Mitsubishi Electric seems to have taken note. The RV-5AS-D features Windows-based programming, called RT Visual. The software allows non-expert users to drag-and-drop icons to define the movements of the arm and simulate operations in 3D before the robot actually performs them.

Rather than having to hire another technician or operator to program the robot’s CAM, a user with some base-level robotics knowledge can get this thing up and running.

Movements can be taught and recorded via a dedicated control panel right on the arm of the robot, which removes the more common interface of conventional teach pendants. That means fewer things strewn about the shop floor.

Much like the “teach mode” its counterparts from other brands use, the RV-5AS-D has a direct control mode. According to Mitsubishi, users can move the arm into position by hand with controlled force. That position can then be added to the motion sequence or attributed to a command without needing to open the programming tools.

With robotics safety standards ISO 10218-1 and ISO/TS15066 and a six-color LED status indicator on the forearm, this cobot should be set to operate in an array of collaborative manufacturing environments.

While this is Mitsubishi’s first cobot, the announcement of the MELFA ASSISTA series means that there could be some variations on the way. In the meantime, the R-5AS-D clocks in about $34,000 and fits right into the space of entry-level cobots. The 5kg payload limits this robot to smaller pick-and-place operations, but the accuracies leave some opportunity for being a valuable machine-tending robot.

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