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Making the co-existence of humans and robots a reality
  • Writer : KU Research
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  • Date : 2018-10-04

KU Research Fall 2018
Collaborative robot:
Making the co-existence of humans and robots a reality


Although the number of industrial robots has increased in absolute terms, owing to the manufacturing field rapidly becoming increasingly “smart”, installation is expensive and requires building fences for workers’ safety. We met Professor Jae-Bok Song, who developed collaborative robots to overcome such shortcomings. His robots enable workers and robots to share the same space without any safety fence. His robots are also easy to use and do not require users to have programming knowledge.

Considering Technology Transfer from the Start when Developing Collaborative Robots

Professor Jae-Bok Song from the School of Mechanical Engineering, Korea University has been developing collaborative robots since an industry-academe project started in 2007. After succeeding in developing a collaborative robot called the Korea University Dexterous Robot (KUDEX) series, Professor Song transferred the collaborative robot technology and has provided industrial advice to Hanwha Techwin, Doosan Robotics, and Higen Motor since 2012. He has contributed to the commercialization and export of collaborative robots.

Korea University’s Intelligent Robotics Lab, headed by Professor Song, has been successful in around 20 cases of technology transfer and guaranteed about KRW 2.5 billion in technology transfer fees. More than five technology transfers are scheduled for the near future. Although the fees are small compared with the number of technology transfer cases, they are considered an investment for the future and not for immediate gains, given the current situation in Korea’s domestic robot industry.

Professor Song pointed out, “Most labs think they can transfer technology if they stumble upon something good during their research, but if you do this way, it hardly leads to an actual technology transfer.” “Since we have experienced many times that a technology transfer actually happens only when we develop almost-final products on campus, our lab plans a technology transfer right from the start of our research and development,” he added.


An SME-Friendly Collaborative Robot is Key to Global Competitiveness

Because support for making small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) “smart” is provided at the government level, it is expected that demand for collaborative robots that SMEs can use easily will grow further.

“As collaborative robot companies in Korea are latecomers in the global market, it would be better to provide a solution together [with the government], to ensure that SME clients can use their robots easily,” Professor Song advised. “Although profits are earned from selling collaborative robots or hardware, if they want to increase sales, they need a strategy to provide a software solution that differentiates themselves from other companies and maximize the sales of hardware,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, for the first time in the word, the Intelligent Robotics Lab recently developed a multi-DOF mechanical gravity compensation-based robot and successfully enhanced industrial robots’ efficiency by more than 30%. Professor Song expressed his aspirations: “If we apply gravity compensation technology to collaborative robots, we will be able to create collaborative robots that can handle heavier weight than the present robots. We will also transfer this technology to Korean companies and help them advance in the relevant market.”

Professor Jae-Bok Song
School of Mechanical Engineering, Korea University
2011–2018, Granite Tower Technology Awards, Korea University
2018, Official Member of the National Academy of Engineering of Korea
2016, Presidential Citation for the Korea Robot Grand Prize
2014, Science and Technology Excellent Paper Award from the Korea Science and Technology Annual Meeting
2014, Chairman of the Korea Robotics Society
2008, Academic Award from the Institute of Controls, Robotics and Systems
2004–Present, Director of the Intelligent Robotics Lab, Korea University
1993–Present, Professor at the School of Mechanical Engineering, Korea University

- KU Research Fall 2018 (View all articles)


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