Universal Robots Leverages Former Competitor Rethink Robotics

Since its inception in 2005, Universal Robots has continually pioneered advances in collaborative robotics.  As the global leader in a market expected to reach $600 million in 2019 and $7.9 billion by 2027 according to Interact Analysis, UR is always looking for a way to keep its nearly 50 percent market share in new and innovative ways.

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Earlier this month, the Boston Globe reported that UR hired nearly two dozen employees from its former competitor Rethink Robotics of Boston, Mass. which is currently reorganizing under Germany’s Hahn Group after shutting its doors suddenly last year.  UR President and CEO Jürgen von Hollen had “nothing but nice things to say” about his former competitor Rethink, stating that they were “One of the best competitors [UR] ever had”  which pushed UR to continually improve its products. Robotics.org notes that the acquisition of some of Rethink’s top minds “will help expedite UR’s strategic ambitions and actions” over the coming years – especially with their knowledge of the cobot market and the needs of its customers. Rethink’s two collaborative robot systems, released in 2012 and 2015 respectively, were somewhat doomed to fail due to the cobots’ reliance on an imprecise spring-actuated motion control method.  Despite this limitation, Rethink’s cobots sporting multiple-axis control, embedded and external vision, and built-in force sensing made a sizable dent in the cobot market. 

While the Globe reports that the cobot market had “plenty of room for UR and Rethink to coexist”, it is hard to say for sure what the future may bring.  More and more companies are entering the cobot market – from lower-cost UR copies from Asia to many of the traditional robotics companies like Kuka, Fanuc and ABB.  The traditional robotics companies certainly have the pedigree and the talent to saturate the cobot market with new products.  However, only time will tell how well these new market entrants will stack up against UR’s well-established cobot brand.  It is obvious that cobots will be the automation segment to watch over the next decade.

Despite the increase in competition, UR continues to innovate to keep its edge in the global market.  UR’s new e-Series cobots feature a redesigned programming interface and a host of new features and upgrades making them easier to program, redeploy, and operate than ever.  You can read more about the e-Series in a previous blog post.  Robot27 deploys UR cobots – which boast some of the fastest returns on investment in the robotics world – in most of its automation solutions.

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