In October, early cobot pioneer Rethink Robotics announced they were shutting down. Today, Universal Robots (UR, Odense, Denmark) announced they are hiring 20+ Rethink staff members and merging their Boston office with Rethink’s former headquarters in the Seaport area in Boston – effective immediately. Rethink personnel hired by UR bring extensive collaborative robotics experience in engineering, product development, and customer applications, which UR expects to combine well with their own expertise to continue to drive new and innovative collaborative robotics solutions.
“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. 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,” says Universal Robots’ President Jürgen von Hollen. “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, now the fastest-growing segment of industrial robotics, is forecasted to grow from $283 million last year to $3.26 billion in 2022 according to BIS Research. Universal Robots’ currently leads the segment with around 60% market share. In 2017, UR saw 72% growth and they are targeting 50% growth in 2018. Long term, according to von Hollen, is to maintain greater than 50% market share within the cobot category. Achieving this growth means continually adapting the company structure and processes to deliver its ambitious targets for 2019 and beyond. The company sees the addition of key Rethink Robotics personnel helping expedite UR’s strategic ambitions and actions.
“Rethink Robotics – along with Universal Robots – has been a pioneer in driving and developing the collaborative robotics market globally,” said 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.”