Universal Robots hires more than 20 former Rethink Robotics staff

Tuesday November 13, 2018
Written by Manufacturing AUTOMATION
November 13, 2018 – Universal Robots (UR) has hired more than 20 staff members from its former competitor, the recently shuttered Rethink Robotics, merging UR’s Boston office with Rethink’s former headquarters in the Seaport area in Boston.

The change is effective immediately. UR says the new personnel bring extensive collaborative robotics experience in engineering, product development and customer applications.

In a surprise to the robotics community, Rethink Robotics announced its closure on Oct. 3, 2018, citing poor sales of its cobots Sawyer and Baxter. Rethink was founded in 2008 and was well known for its anthropomorphic cobots Baxter and Sawyer, which each featured a face on the screens attached to the cobot arm.

“Our new colleagues from Rethink have extensive expertise, knowledge and know-how not only about the technology but indeed also about the market conditions and what the customers’ pain-points are," says Jürgen von Hollen, president of UR. "All of this will benefit our customers and partners as we face an increase in competitors due to the huge market potential for collaborative robots. Our ability to secure key members of the Rethink team will have a significant positive impact in meeting market needs and driving innovation."

Collaborative robots, which UR says is the fastest-growing segment of industrial robotics, is forecasted to grow from USD 283 million last year to USD 3.26 billion in 2022, according to BIS Research.

"Rethink Robotics – along with Universal Robots – has been a pioneer in driving and developing the collaborative robotics market globally," says von Hollen. "The company was always a good competitor, which helped us drive cobot awareness worldwide, and we want to make sure its customers can continue to fulfill their collaborative automation initiatives."

The company says it is ready to help Rethink customers transition to UR cobots and they can begin the process at a special microsite here. UR was co-founded in 2005 by the company’s CTO, Esben Østergaard. Since its first cobot was launched in 2008, the Danish-based company, now owned by Teradyne, has experienced considerable growth and now owns 60 per cent of the market share.

In related news, German-based Hahn Group just announced that it has acquired all patents and robotic technology from Rethink Robotics and that it will continue development of Sawyer and its accompany software program.

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