United Robotics Group launches uLink robots with open APIs for retail and logistics

United Robotics Group uLink mobile robot with warehouse cart concept.
uLink mobile robot with warehouse cart concept. Source: United Robotics Group

At Viva Technology today, United Robotics Group announced its uLink service robots for retail, warehouse, and manufacturing settings that need to attract and retail talent. The company said they are designed to collaborate with humans and have an application programming interface, or API, to ease communications with existing operations.

“The retail and logistics sector has been experiencing significant transformation for years, linked to the growth of e-commerce, automation, and a shortage of talent in the value chain — for example, stock fillers in stores or water spiders in a warehouse or production plant,” explained Thomas Linkenheil, co-CEO of United Robotics Group (URG). “It is important for us to be able to support players in the sector in this evolution and to offer solutions that meet tailor-made needs.”

“In a highly competitive sector, consumers are looking for a faster, more personalized experience,” he continued. “This logistics solution responds to the ability of teams to be able to provide cutting-edge customer service in store without worrying about certain back-and-forth and warehouse searches, which can take time and impact the in-store experience.”

In 2020, Thomas Hähn founded United Robotics Group, which combined eight service robotics companies and brought hardware and software expertise under one roof. The Bochum, Germany-based company employs more than 490 employees from 28 nations to build its technologies for service and industrial use.

New mobile robot has a modular design

United Robotics Group said it has expanded its CobiotX collaborative line with a modular platform to boost operational efficiency. uLink can fit into retail, logistics, manufacturing, and healthcare workflows, it added.

The autonomous mobile robot (AMR) is equipped with SEER navigation control, allowing it to carry out deliveries in areas up to 400,000 sq. m (4.3 million sq. ft.). The company said its robot is equipped with 3D lidar and PL-Lidar systems that enable it to immediately process changes in environment, such as the presence or movement of people or machines.

The “spine” or accessory interface of uLink allows it to hold up to 60 kg (132 lb.) of payload. and can will work with industry-standard accessories. They include a locker for click-and-collect or confidential deliveries, a pegboard for tools and parts delivery, and trays for transporting stock items.

A plug-and-play mechanism aligned with the platform’s interface allows for easy accessory integration and for its functionality to evolve throughout the day, URG claimed. Partner integrators can also create new accessories to respond to specific needs.

uLink can operate for 14 hours on one charge and features a smart, wireless-charge function developed with a German battery manufacturer that allows the robot to automatically return to its charging base between missions. URG said its robot complies with safety and data-privacy standards, including EU machine directives “Performance Level D” and GDPR regulations.

United Robotics Group uLink service robot with locker concept.
uLink service robot with locker concept. Source: United Robotics Group

uLink includes developer, user support

United Robotics Group said uLink is is available with an integrated development environment (IDE), software development kit (SDK), and fleet management tools. The company said it is its “first cobiot with an open API, increasing connectivity and flexibility.”

The API allows the robot to communicate with existing operations and other connected systems, including automatic doors and elevators. uLink can work with other AMRs and automated guided vehicles (AGVs).

In addition, the system is connected to an online dashboard to facilitate workflow management and decision making between front-of-house and back-of-house teams. URG said it designed its user interface based on no-code principles so users without robotics expertise could quickly bring the robot into their daily operations.

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United Robotics Group expands into new markets

United Robotics Group said it has developed standardized and customized systems to serve the life sciences and healthcare, hospitality, retail, education, intralogistics, inspection and maintenance, and surveillance sectors. It said the launch of uLink marks its expansion into warehouse management and manufacturing. 

RSBG SE, the investment entity of RAG-Stiftung focused on technology and engineering driven companies, is majority shareholder of United Robotics Group. SoftBank Robotics Group is minority shareholder of URG.

In 2022, United Robotics Group acquired the licenses for the Nao and Pepper humanoid robots from SoftBank Robotics Europe, which acquired them from Aldebaran. HAHN Group had acquired the intellectual property of collaborative robot pioneer Rethink Robotics, now part of URG.

In 2023, URG acquired mobile robot developer Robotnik. United Robotics Group also makes the Plato and uLink Board in its mobile spine series, plus KEVIN and uMobileLab in its manipulation series. 

The company is showing the new uLink robots alongside its warehouse and logistics fleet, including RBWatcher and Mobile Palletizer, at VivaTech this week in Paris. uLink is available for lease through United Robotics Group’s robotics-as-a-service (RaaS) model, starting from €699 ($756 U.S.) per month, or for purchase for €19,900 ($21,532).

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Automated Warehouse staff