Collaborative robots or Cobots are they are commonly referred to in the industry have improved by leaps and bounds in the last decade or so. It’s quite fascinating to think that Cobots were a simple object of curiosity as recently as 2012. Now they are being used in practically every sector with manufacturing leading the others.
We are yet to get to a point where humans are completely kicked out of their workplace. In fact, Cobots are showing us that we may never reach that eventuality.
Revolutionizing Human/Machine Collaboration
Companies are deploying Cobots to help humans perform not just routine but increasingly creative tasks as well. Manufacturing processes are being revolutionized as Cobots and human workers work side in factory floors complementing each other to streamline workflows. We are truly in the middle of the so-called 4th industrial revolution.
Cobots are cheap to acquire, easy to program and set up regardless of the environment. They usually have a modular structure and can be integrated with existing setups with ease. Components such as robot arms can be stripped from one area of application to another providing an unrivaled level of flexibility. A good example is the Universal Robots robotic arm which can be used in any setup providing fluid programmable movements for any use case.
4 Real-World Applications
In this publication, we explore in detail 7 truly inspiring real-world applications of collaborative robots across a number of sectors in the industry. Some of these applications will totally blow your mind!
1. Collaborative Robots in Healthcare
The use of robots isn’t new in the healthcare industry; traditional robotics has been used extensively in many aspects of healthcare automation. However, collaborative robots have been the hottest topic in medical circles recently and for a valid reason.
There is no better application of collaborative robots than in healthcare. Despite advancements in the field of AI and machine learning, there has always been a deep skepticism over the use of robots in the handling of human life. Cobots are great for Medicare because they don’t seek to replace human health practitioners they are supposed to complement their work making them more efficient and accurate.
Two great examples where Cobots are being used to streamline Healthcare processes:
- Lab testing – Cobots are being programmed to streamline the process of acquiring samples eliminating possible contamination and human error thus improving the accuracy of lab test results. They are used to pick up and load samples into testing equipment.
- Aiding Surgeons – Collaborative robots are disrupting the surgery practice. Surgeons are increasingly deploying Cobots to aid various surgical procedures around the world. They complement human surgeons by helping them make much smaller incisions and reach areas impossible for the human wrist to reach.
2. Collaborative Robots in The Logistics Industry
E-commerce logistics has always been in a constant cycle of innovation as more and more businesses move online. Collaborative robots couldn’t have come at a better time for this industry as major logistics providers and major E-commerce companies such as Amazon scramble to fulfill millions of orders with limited deadlines.
Cobots are used in fulfillment centers operated by a few humans to sort and pack items for transportation. It’s not uncommon to find warehouses handling thousands of orders a day with a dozen or fewer workers on-site.
3. Cobots in Restaurants and Food Production
Restaurants are deploying Cobots to aid workers and chefs in the preparation and packaging of food. Cobots are used to handle dangerous, mundane and repetitive tasks e.g. grilling and mixing in the kitchen letting human chefs do the creative work.
Some inspiring examples include companies like Orkla Foods Sverige and Axium foods deploying Universal robots (UR5 and UR10) to accelerate the packaging of food items in their factory. A popular example is Flippy the burger flipping robot used to prepare burgers in a restaurant in LA.
4. Collaborative Robots in Agriculture
Robot arms have been developed that can handle the most mundane of tasks like picking and planting plants in large scale farms across the world. Now large scale farmers can keep up with production demands even when seasonal casual labor is hard to come by.
There is has been a lot of debate on the role of robots and whether we are all going to eventually lose our jobs to a faster, cheaper and more efficient workforce in the future. It’s no secret that robots have replaced and continue to replace human beings in a number of areas but collaborative robots introduce a whole new paradigm shift in the way we look at robots.
Humans can now work side by side with Cobots complementing each other’s shortcomings and boosting productivity.