What are Cobots?
What are Cobots?
They’ve been around since the 1990s – collaborative robots, known as Cobots, operate in conjunction with humans to perform given tasks. Unlike traditional industrial robots, which are isolated from human contact, cobots directly interact with humans in a shared workspace.
Cobots can perform assembly tasks that are unpleasant, ergonomically strenuous or otherwise poorly suited for humans. These tasks may involve repetition, precision, lifts or rotary movements. They can perform many operations much faster than humans, thus increasing efficiency. For example, one robot can serve the workstations of two people and work several shifts in a row without a problem.
In other words, cobots can be defined as the hardware version of Augmented Intelligence. Instead of replacing humans with their autonomous counterparts, cobots augment artificial intelligence technologies with physical bots and can help revolutionize production in the manufacturing industries. By performing tasks with greater strength, accuracy, and data capabilities, cobots help improve human capabilities. According to reports, robots are already being used by companies in various ways:
- Replacing Employees and Solving Seasonality Problems – Monotonous or season-dependent temporary production jobs are being replaced by cobots that solve issues related to employee retention, turnover and seasonality.
- Improving Ergonomics – In some industrial firms, certain assembly tasks are being handled by so-called soft-skin cobots who physically interact with humans in a shared workspace.
- Increasing Productivity – Electronics manufacturers use robots to carry out delicate polishing and buffing tasks on some of their products. Not only does this increase their productivity, but it also allows them to promote employees who used to handle these tasks to higher positions.
- Employee Wellbeing – A New-York based start-up has developed a bricklaying robot that can lay around 2,000 bricks a day. It works collaboratively with masons to increase their productivity by three to five times. This reduces lifting by more than 80%, helping to enhance employee wellbeing.
- Pinpoint Accuracy – In some companies in the auto industry, cobots work hand in hand with employees to help carry out tasks that require pinpoint accuracy, strength and a high level of dexterity. The cobots can make tasks easier, safer and quicker, complementing the human workforce to amplify production.
Due to the many benefits for businesses of all sizes, the sales of collaborative robots are increasing each year along with service robots for hospitality . According to MarketsandMarkets, the cobot industry is projected to grow from USD 1.2 billion in 2021 to USD 10.5 billion by 2027. The sales of cobots are just 5% of the total robot market and this figure is expected to grow exponentially as more industries start to explore the possibility of working with bots. With many companies seeing the advantages of optimizing their processes and enhancing their workforce with cobots, it is clear that collaborative robots are the future of production and technology.