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Frida factory robot won't crush your fingers

Switzerland's ABB has a concept factory robot that's humanoid and agile, and it won't crush a stray human hand.

Frida can manipulate small parts. ABB

Swiss automation firm ABB is showing off a concept factory robot called Frida that's more humanoid than the typical one-armed drones on the assembly line.

The two-armed Frida is being billed as a "harmless robotic co-worker for industrial assembly." Of course, any robot described as being "harmless" should be treated with extreme caution.

It has seven-axis arms, flexible grippers, and camera-based parts location and runs via ABB's IRC5 controller. It's designed as a lightweight, portable complement to human parts assembly.

Frida stands for "Friendly Robot for Industrial Dual-arm Assembly," but I reckon the first word in that name won't sit well with some people. Still, it has padded arms and can sense when a human hand gets too close, as seen in the video below.

While Frida is only a concept, with several prototypes being used in pilot applications, Japan's Yaskawa has had two-armed assembly robots on the market for years with its Motoman series. They're much bigger and bulkier, and potentially less safe, but they can play the drums too.

Frida's size rather than its number of limbs is innovative. We'll see whether manufacturers appreciate it too.