Collaborative robots (Cobots) were all over Automate in Chicago (April 8-11, 2019) – show casing Cobots dominant role in future manufacturing. Companies from Odense are playing a key role in this development. If one stepped outside of Automate, the buzz centered around autonomous mobility.
The City Council of Odense has high ambitions for the city, as they wish to transform Odense from being the Global Cobot Capital to the World’s Leading Robotics City. In order to fulfill this ambition, there is a need to connect and share experiences with other tech areas in the world. That is why Invest in Odense and Odense Robotics went to Pittsburgh (a former steel city in a transformation process), Detroit (a car manufacturing city reinventing itself), and Chicago (hosting one of the world’s largest robot fairs, Automate), in April. Combined with previous trips to Silicon Valley and a coming trip to Boston in June, it will give insights into Odense’s position and the possibilities for collaborating with other tech areas.
In Chicago, 500 exhibitors fought for the attention of the several thousand visitors at Automate. If some companies were overlooked, it was not the companies from Odense. Mobile Industrial Robots (MiR), OnRobot, Nord Modules, ROEQ, Effimat (at the Promat fair) and Universal Robots (UR) had their hands full and got a lot of leads and useful contacts. In general, the presence of cobots was huge, but the presence of Universal Robots was even more impressive. Besides having the largest booth in the most central location of Automate – and with the most activity – cobots from Universal Robots could be seen at more than 30 exhibitors using more than 80 UR arms to demonstrate their products/solutions.
At the OnRobot booth, you could see grippers implemented on not only UR arms but also on a lot of other companies’ arms demonstrating that OnRobot is producing grippers for all solutions and for all cobots. The Danish Consul General from Chicago, Jakob Skaarup Nielsen, came by and was impressed with how OnRobot and the other Danish companies dominanted in their business areas.
In Odense, companies are building their success on other companies, so it was only natural that Nord Modules and ROEQ presented their modules and equipment designed for the mobile robots from MiR. MiR itself had one of the busiest and largest booths and used the opportunity to introduce MiR1000, which can automatically pick up, transport and deliver pallets and other heavy loads up to 1,000 kg, as well as the new MiR AI Camera. And with a lot of attention. “We have had a great and extremely busy week in Chicago”, Thomas Visti, CEO, Mobile Industrial Robots, posted on LinkedIn.
MiR was not the only mobile solution present in Chicago, but it was by far the most visible and visited. Mobile and autonomous solutions are expanding rapidly. And not only at Automate or in manufacturing. Visiting tech areas across the U.S., there is no doubt that there is a heavy competition on autonomous mobility solutions. Uber spent $457 million on research and development in the field last year. Uber ATG which was founded in 2015 in Pittsburgh with 40 researchers from Carnegie Robotics and Carnegie Mellon University, currently has more than 1,000 employees spread out in offices in Pittsburgh, San Francisco and Toronto. In March, Ford announced a new autonomous vehicle factory in Michigan that is a part of a $900 million investment in the region, which is supposed to be up and running by 2021.
A lot of companies will be competing for winning the race on autonomous mobility. But Odense will not be a part of it. Odense has succeeded in positioning itself as the world’s leader in cobots. A position that was acknowledged by people attending Automate. Mikkel Christoffersen, Business Manager of Odense Robotics, had a busy time as a couple of journalists kept on asking: “What is it with Odense? It seems everyone is from Odense. It must be a huge city?” Well, Odense has only 200,000 citizens. But size is not everything.
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