Cobot Comparison: New UR e-SERIES vs. 3rd Gen UR Robots
Isaac Maw posted on June 21, 2018 |
Left: the UR10. Right: the new UR10e. (images courtesy of Universal Robots)
Left: the UR10. Right: the new UR10e. (Images courtesy of Universal Robots)

Universal Robots has introduced its new flagship e-Series cobots recently, at Automatica 2018 in Munich, Germany. The company is already on the third generation of its three robot offerings—the UR3, UR5 and UR10. The e-SERIES will be available concurrently as a premium option. On the Universal Robots product webpage for each robot, detailed specifications for both the standard and e-SERIES robots are available.

According to the press release, this new collaborative robot platform is intended to enable faster development for a wider variety of applications than the standard line.

Improvements include greater precision and sensitivity provided by a built-in, tool-centric force/torque sensor. It will be interesting to see how this impacts accessory firms such as Robotiq, which offers a force torque sensor designed specifically for Universal Robots’ machines. Robotiq likely has few concerns, however, as it recently announced the Hand-E, the first gripper designed for the new UR e-SERIES.

Improving user experience is another goal of the new series, with a redesigned control panel and new programming and control software to make deployment and programming easier, regardless of application. 

The company also mentions 17 safety functions for the e-SERIES, including customizable stopping time and distance, but the existing UR product line lists 15 safety functions and it’s currently unclear whether there are only two new functions, or if some of those original functions have changed. Certified by TÜV Nord, all the functions are in compliance with the EN ISO 13849-1 and EN ISO 10218-1 (Cat. 3 PLd) machinery safety standards for unobstructed human-robot collaboration.

Spec Comparison: UR3 vs. New UR3e

To see the nitty-gritty about the new series, let’s compare the product specs. I'll be comparing the 3kg-payload robot.

Here are the technical details listed in the main UR series product brochure (not new):


Technical details, UR3 (From UR product brochure)
Technical details, UR3 (From UR product brochure)

And here are the technical details listed in the new e-SERIES brochure, with differences highlighted:

Technical details, UR3e (taken from UR e-SERIES product brochure)
Technical details, UR3e (taken from UR e-SERIES product brochure)

As you can see, there are quite a few differences in the specs. To start with, the UR3e robot’s power consumption is listed as “Approx. 100W using a typical program” compared to “Typical 125W” on the UR3’s sheet. While this may indicate lower power usage, it’s worth noting that both figures are listed as approximates within an operating range, so I’d wager it’s likely that no design changes were made to this effect.

Next, we see that while the e-SERIES sheet lists those 17 safety functions as touted in the latest press release, some 15 also appear on the UR3 specs. Noteworthy here is that the new sheet lists ISO 10218, which together with TS/15066 describes safety requirements for industrial robots. The standard was recently updated to accommodate collaborative robots. The new robot also lists the details for the wrist force/torque sensor, a totally new feature not available on the standard product line.

Notice that the repeatability has improved from the UR3, listed at ±0.1mm, to the UR3e, listed at ±0.03mm. The new robot’s sheet mentions ISO 9283, which covers standard procedures for evaluating performance of industrial robots, including measuring position accuracy, path accuracy and repeatability. Compared to competitor cobots, such as the KUKA LBR iiwa (±0.1mm), Rethink Robotics Sawyer (±0.1mm), ABB YuMi (±0.02mm) and FANUC CR-4iA (±0.013mm), this repeatability is very good, suitable for precise finishing, assembly and electronics tasks.

The ingress protection rating has stepped down from IP64 to IP54. This means that while the UR3 is totally protected against dust, the UR3e is slightly vulnerable to dust ingress. However, it’s worth pointing out that although the UR3 is rated IP64, its sister products the UR5 and UR10 are both IP54 rated, just like the new e-SERIES arms. It’s unclear why the UR3 achieved a higher rating.

Workers may thank you if you upgrade to the e-SERIES, thanks to a 10dB reduction in noise. According to industrialnoisecontrol.com, 70dB is comparable to a vacuum cleaner, at the upper edge of what’s comfortable. 60dB is half as loud as 70dB, comparable to an air conditioner from 100 feet away. That’s a significantly less noisy robot!

The e-SERIES adds UART interface support, as well as 8-pin m8 connector support for end effectors.

The last thing of note on this data sheet is that the materials include steel in the new e-SERIES, as well as a slightly higher weight (only about 6oz or 180g difference). It’s possible that the higher weight is due to the use of steel, but it’s not clear where the steel is used in the new model.

Of course, this comparison doesn’t account for the UX redesign on the HMI.

Conclusion: What’s New About the New e-SERIES UR robots?

In summary, in addition to the redesigned HMI, the e-SERIES sports a new built-in tool force/torque sensor, better pose repeatability and significantly quieter operation.

“Our e-Series platform is leveraging our years of experience as the market leader within collaborative robots,” says Jürgen von Hollen, president of Universal Robots. “The ‘e’ in e-Series stands for Evolution and it also underpins our key vision and overall product philosophy, specifically empowering people and making it easy for Everyone.”

“The global cobot market is expected to continue to be one of the key growth drivers in the automation market over the coming years. With the e-Series, my expectation is that we at Universal Robots will continue to leverage our position as the cobot market leader. This, however, can only be done by staying ahead technologically, hence the launch of e-Series,” said von Hollen, emphasizing the importance of Universal Robots+ and the online training program Universal Robots Academy which will both support the e-Series platform. 

Universal Robots will start taking orders for the e-Series immediately, and plans to begin shipping units to customers beginning August 1, 2018.

You can visit Universal Robots at Automatica in hall B4, booth 303.

For more robotics news from Automatica, check out the following stories:

 Omron to Introduce New i4 Scara Product Family

Comau Launches MATE, a Non-Robotic, Spring-Based Wearable Exoskeleton, at Automatica 2018

Former Universal Robots Engineers Found Purple Robotics, Execute First Product Launch



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