Engineer Spent 9 Years Reinventing the Robot, Then He Quit

His work took old industrial robot technology and made it smart and modern.

Lasse Kieffer is the CEO and co-founder of Purple Robotics. Kieffer is one of three founders who split off of Universal Robots (UR) research and development department.

Kieffer spent nearly a decade trying to make a new robot - the UR collaborative robots (cobots) that have changed the way many perceive industrial robots. The team took a big leap and left the company with the list of ideas, the world's first dual electric vacuum gripper was at the top of that list.

“I had the best job there,” Kieffer says in a recent IEN Newsdesk interview (watch above). But Kieffer was looking for a new challenge.

His work with cobots took old industrial robot technology and made it smart and modern. He wanted to do the same with vacuum gripper technology.

Since the 1970s, vacuum cups have primarily been used as tooling on industrial robots. According to Kieffer, installation required a lot of components and was a rather clumsy process, so he created the PR10 to be a simple plug-and-play solution out of the box.

“The beauty of collaborative robots is the way that they work with humans,” says Kieffer. “They are easy to use, and they are safe to use … [For] the past ten years, the focus has been on cobots, but what factories really need are cobot applications.”

The PR10 is designed to fit seamlessly on UR cobots from a mechanical, electrical and software perspective. It’s not designed for specific applications because cobots are intentionally generic.

Purple Robotics launched in September 2017, they had three prototypes by January 2018, and the officially launched the PR10 in May 2018. So far, they have been overwhelmed by positive interest.

Next, the company has plans to launch new products, but Kieffer is reticent to expose his road map. We’ll just have to wait and see.

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