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Danish automation supplier OnRobot comes to North America

The end-of-arm tooling maker for collaborative robot applications has opened a new R&D office in Los Angeles as part of its push into the U.S. and Canadian markets.


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September 3, 2019 by Canadian Plastics

Angelo Moreno (Intern) and Lizzeth Sanchez (Robot Integration) testing Gecko Grippers on robot arms from Universal Robots and Yaskawa.
Photo Credit: OnRobot

Denmark is a relatively small country that exports a lot, from computers to pig meat – of which, believe it or not, it ranks among the world’s largest exporters.

And increasingly, robots is climbing closer to the top of this list.

A case in point is Danish robotics company OnRobot, which has opened its first North America location in a bid to develop new end-of-arm tooling (EOAT) products for the U.S. and Canada.

Located in Culver City in Los Angeles, the new office area has 6,000 square feet for the company’s staff of 17 engineers and researchers. The recent opening of the office comes on the heels of OnRobot’s first foray into the L.A. area, when it acquired L.A.-based Perception Robotics in January 2018. With this acquisition, OnRobot brought the Gecko Gripper technology into its product offerings and developed it for commercial launch. The tactile Gecko Gripper uses millions of micro-scaled fibrillar stalks that adhere to a surface the same way that lizards climb. Originally created to help NASA salvage and repair satellites, the Gecko Gripper’s unique ability to pick up porous and delicate objects has already gained significant traction with OnRobot’s industrial automation customers.

OnRobot was founded in 2015, but was officially established as OnRobot A/S in 2018, when it merged with EOAT companies OptoForce in Hungary and Perception Robotics. Two months after the Perception Robotics purchase, OnRobot acquired Purple Robotics, a Denmark-based startup best known for its PR10 electrical-based vacuum gripper that doesn’t require an external air supply.

OnRobot is headquartered in Odense, Denmark, which is known in the automation world for being the home base of Universal Robots, the pioneer of collaborative robotics – also known as cobots – technology.

GOOD GROWTH

According to OnRobot CEO Enrico Krog Iversen, the company’s recent expansion into its new L.A. office came about because there wasn’t enough square footage in the original Perception Robotics space for OnRobot to grow. “As OnRobot continues its aggressive expansion throughout North America, moving to a larger location in Culver City offers multiple benefits,” he said. “It has space for our current staff, with plenty of room for the research team to use multiple types of collaborative robot arms in our quest to develop new tools for these.” The Culver City HQ is also directly across the street from a multi-million-dollar entertainment industry hub that’s currently being built, called Ivy Station. “The new building will be home to HBO, Apple, and Amazon, bringing to Culver City a more qualified pool of candidates for us to choose from when we look at increasing our staff next year,” Iversen said. “We’re excited to be here and are looking forward to all the great things we’re going to accomplish in this region.”

OnRobot’s anticipated growth comes from the fact that the cobot market is now the fastest growing segment of industrial automation, expected to jump ten-fold to 34 per cent of all industrial robot sales by 2025, according to the International Federation of Robotics. “Cobot are robots that, unlike traditional industrial robots, don’t need to be bolted down in safety cages but can work safely alongside humans on ever-changing tasks,” Iversen said. And with the U.S. facing record low unemployment rates, companies are now turning to cobots to help them automate tedious, repetitive tasks that they can no longer staff. “OnRobot plays a pivotal role in this growth by providing cobots with end-of-arm-tooling such as grippers, tool changers, and force/torque sensors, that are used with cobots and light industrial robots from a variety of robot manufacturers,” Iversen said.

OnRobot works with all major cobot brands at the new Culver City office, with plans to add more as the California location grows.