Collaborative Robots or Cobots – The Future of Automation
When someone asks you about robots, you may think of a variety of things such as the popular fictional characters like C3PO from Star Wars, Bender from Futurama, or one of the Transformers. Naturally, you might perceive robots as tireless machines that can perform numerous tasks independently, or you might consider the possibility of futuristic innovations such as robot pets and teachers.
However, robots are proving their value in previously unforeseen ways. Currently, there is a growing trend of robots being regarded as colleagues in organizations, and this trend is expected to continue in the coming years due to the increasing use of collaborative robots also known as ‘cobots’.
Cobots: Definition and Introduction to their Applications
People generally associate robots with physical devices that can be either self-aware or not, and are employed to perform tasks that are either costly, monotonous, hazardous, or risky. This type of robotics finds widespread application in various industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, energy, warehousing, and many others. It is widely acknowledged that the primary purpose of robots is to accomplish tasks that could be risky or harmful to human beings.
Modern industrial robots are mainly intended to substitute human workers and are usually employed in settings with minimal or no human presence. However, there are safety regulations in place to prevent robots from causing damage to humans or the environment.
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Though traditional robots are engineered to operate without human intervention in a segregated environment, collaborative robots (cobots) have been developed to function in close proximity to humans. Cobots are capable of collaborating with humans to complete tasks in sync. Consequently, the design of cobots is unconventional to ensure they can be safely integrated into workspaces. Cobots can interact with their surroundings in a more natural, coordinated manner than traditional robots.
Cobots have gained attention for their impressive capabilities. The training process for a cobot is distinct from that for traditional robots; instead of programming specific tasks, cobots are taught by demonstrating how the tasks are performed. As a result, the cobot learns based on its training and the desired results, acquiring knowledge that allows it to enhance its performance and deliver better outcomes in the future.
It is important to note that using cobots in the workplace is not intended to replace human labour, but rather to augment and facilitate it. Cobots enhance the productivity of human workers by extending and enriching their abilities, providing greater strength, more precise movements, and real-time data processing, ultimately increasing the value of human labour.
What Makes Cobots a Game Changer in the World of Robotics?
If you thought that cobots are only beneficial in the automotive industry or the manufacturing industry, you would be mistaken. Although it is true that a growing number of manufacturers, logistics organizations, supply chains, and warehouses are using cobots to enhance performance and productivity, this is not limited to any particular industry. Cobots have started to demonstrate their value in various industries, including the “gentle” sectors.
The potential for cobots to become widely used in various industries, including retail, theatre, and restaurants, is not far-fetched. This could soon become a reality due to advancements in Artificial Intelligence (AI) and related technologies. As cobots become increasingly cost-efficient and efficient, they have the power to revolutionize many industries, paving the way for new automation opportunities.
It is evident that the trend of using Collaborative Robots (cobots) in the workplace is gaining momentum. For instance, Amazon’s fulfilment centres use cobots to simplify the process of preparing products for transportation, saving time and effort. Similarly, Ocado, an online grocery store, has introduced cobots that roam the warehouse and collect items for customers’ orders to be shipped. Although cobots are not yet seen at checkouts, this technology is advancing rapidly.
The main takeaway is that professionals in any industry should recognize the potential uses of Collaborative Robots (cobots) since it is highly probable that they may have to work with robots in the future. Cobots could present a solution to the problem of a shrinking workforce and rising labour expenses faced by many business owners and executives.
The opinions of cobot experts are worth considering. Ron Schmelzer from Cognilytica believes that cobots could bolster efficiency, efficacy, and advancements across any industry. This could play a role in improving human acceptance of cobots. Unlike traditional robots, which are usually viewed as substitutes, cobots can be seen as smart assistants that can aid individuals in performing their work more effectively.
Collaborative Robots: The Future of Robotics
Collaborative robots (cobots) are rapidly becoming integral to manufacturing operations for organisations of all dimensions, with prominent companies such as KUKA, Universal Robots, and Rethink Robotics spearheading the trend. Industry predictions for the cobot market indicate that by 2023, collaborative robots will make up approximately 35% of all industrial robots sold. Although this does not guarantee the long-term success of cobots, it does reflect their increasing popularity and extensive usage.