When developing Collaborative Robots, or Co-bots as they are known, robotic engineers have traditionally focused more on emerging technology rather than the aesthetics and usability of the products. In 2018, Rainbow Robotics approached tangerine to help them to design and launch their first fully designed commercial Co-bot. The research and development design project ran for over 3 years, involving extensive collaborative work between Rainbow Robotics and tangerine’s Seoul studio. Tangerine and Rainbow Robotics are now pleased to launch the “RB Series” collaborative robot with a fresh brand, new design, and significantly enhanced user-performance.
Rainbow Robotics is a new business developed from the Humanoid Robot Research Centre of the Korea Advanced Institution of Science and Technology (KAIST) in South Korea, developing top robotic system engineering technologies for Humanoids, Co-bots, Service Robots and space exploration. The company was started from HUBO Lab where Dr. Jeongho and Professor Junho Oh served as members of the research centre.
Rainbow Robotics provides professional technological mechatronics services, possessing comprehensive engineering skills and manufacturing capabilities to produce all kinds of mechanical and electronic parts for robotics, in-house from their facilities in South Korea.
The goal was to redefine the identity of Co-bots and make them more accessible for many different types of workers; from a baker who is constantly working with changing variables and environmental conditions that might affect the taste of their bread, to helping an innovative start-up that is designing and manufacturing 3D-printed parts requiring agility and automation from their technologies.
The collaborative process kick-started with an in-depth immersion into a diverse range of environments, including food and beverage, retail, medical and manufacturing facilities in both London (UK) and Seoul (South Korea). The aim was to research environments where Co-Bots had the potential to bring value and efficiencies to workflow processes.
Observations included interviews with both experts and workers, analysing workflows within different spaces to identify user pain-points and spotting opportunities for the next generation of Co-bots. The team also visited top manufacturing and robotic Expos in Japan and Germany to gain a deeper understanding of the robotics, automation and manufacturing industries.
One of the key findings identified that, although Co-bots are designed to work alongside people, they were often too complex to use and required an engineer’s expertise to set-up and operate them. A significant failing, given the success of Co-bots is in their ability to work alongside people collaboratively in a variety of industrial settings. What was missing was a ‘human touch’.
Taking inspiration from the word ‘rainbow’ the DNA for the Prism was formed. Prism’s triangular body makes it easier to install and use in a wide variety of work environments. The new, compact design has created an aesthetically pleasing, streamlined shape and has reduced its footprint. The prism-shaped arms make the Co-bot easier to grip by hand and move during the manual operating process (teaching mode). Compared to traditional Co-bots, the RB Series naturally follows a straight line making it intuitive for the operator to recognise which direction the arm will travel in during operation, aiding close collaborative working.
Key features such as LED indicators on every joint give real-time feedback, as well as improving programming accuracy. A one-touch button on the teaching pendant also ensures an error-free experience when marking the path for the RB Co-bot to follow.
Colour was important to the design development, and the team members experimented with a variety of colours to ensure the design and brand was aligned. A vibrant colour was chosen strategically, not only to stand apart in the competitive market of robots but to enhance the visibility of the Co-bot in environments where the machine would work closely with people. The more visible a moving machine, the safer the work environment.
tangerine and the Rainbow robotics’ software and programming team members collaborated to create the completely new image-based GUI. The new all-in-one platform personalises the graphic interface by adapting the Co-bot’s function depending on the different type of user operating the system.
The RB Co-bot aims to co-exist alongside, as well as enrich connections with people. The vastly improved user experience design, error-free workflow and compact format of the RB Co-bot enables it to work right beside people, bringing value to a diverse range of environments. The RB Co-bot is designed for anyone to operate and is built to carry out repetitive tasks simply. With its professional build, approachable appearance and vibrant visibility, the RB Co-bot can empower people in any field to work more effectively and collaboratively with a degree of robotic automation.