A collaborative robot (Cobot) is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously. A "cobot" is a robot that works in tandem with a human worker. The assumption is that a cobot and a human can produce an end result better and faster than either could do working alone.
One of the challenges will be to coordinate humans and robots sharing the same working room to increase productivity and efficiency.
Progressively, more robotic systems are entering positions previously occupied exclusively by humans. In manufacturing, there is a growing need to integrate robots into the workforce in order to take advantage of the diverse strengths of both humans and robots. This trend is going to affect not only large production sites, but also small and medium-size manufacturers as well.
Manufacturing environments look to have a wide range of profitable applications for cobots.
Let’s list a few examples (internet sourcing):
Material handling - the heavy-payload CR-35iA cobot by FANUC does the dangerous and repetitive job of heavy lifting, but a human operator stands by to guide the robot.
- Trelleborg Sealing Solutions in Denmark went from having no robots to having 42 UR (Universal Robots
) robots in 2 years. The robots at Trelleborg enable one worker to manage a cell with eight CNC machines in operation.
Users can teach the cobot how to push the cycle-start button and open the machine door, eliminating much of the wiring and input/output work that comes with most robot installations. Many of the functions usually performed by a machine operator can be learned simply by dragging the cobot’s arm through the desired motions and telling it when to open and close its gripper
- There is a big trend nowadays of using collaborative robots to package product. In fact, it is a redundant task that can be quite repetitive for a human worker. By putting a collaborative robot at this spot, you can still have workers around it and with minimal modifications, your robot can work like any other worker. With vision systems and adaptive Grippers, packaging tasks are now easier than ever.
Cobots are going to be assistants to factory workers, helping increase productivity and efficiency. While the robots will perform the repetitive jobs, factory workers could be creative and improve the ways to carry out manufacturing.