In the 90s we thought we’d be in flying cars and have fully automated workforces. Whilst we’re not quite there yet (we’re still driving around on four wheels and emptying our own bins) so many interesting robots are already working among us.

There’s so much more out there than self-driving cars on their way and about 100 different types of Roomba – there are some truly impressive and imaginative robots across many different industries that help us out daily and make you realise just how far we’ve come.

The girl and cobot
photo credit: Andy Kelly / Unsplash

Collaborative robots (or “cobots”) are robots designed to work together with humans in close proximity. They’re designed to help us out with day-to-day tasks instead of carrying out their work with no human intervention. There are cobots in industries from hospitality to healthcare.

So, what are some of the weirdest and most wonderful cobots employed around the globe?

Cobots in hospitality

Almost every industry is at least thinking and considering how cobots can come in handy. The hospitality is taking full advantage of automation and robotics in order to free up their workforce and bring in curious customers.

The perfectly named “Weird Hotel” in Japan was designed to be fully autonomous and staffed by cobots. They didn’t quite make it, with a few cobot staff losing their jobs to humans as their technology couldn’t quite replace the human touch.

The Hilton Hotel chain went for a slightly less ambitious (although easier to maintain) model, by employing a robot concierge named Connie. Connie is there to interact with guests by answering questions about tourist attractions, restaurants, and more, and providing hotel information. Connie learns from every interaction in order to adapt and improve. She’s been a successful employee so far!

Hotels aren’t the only sector of the hospitality industry taking advantage of cobots. Ever wanted to watch your Margarita or Long Island Iced Tea get made by a robot? Then take a luxury cruise with Royal Caribbean Cruises who have cobot bartenders on a few ships, or take a trip to Makr Shakr bar in Milan where you can choose your cocktail via an app and watch it created in front of you by robotic arms. Humans are still there in all instances to oversee in case the cobot makes a mistake – and to ensure your drink is garnished to perfection!

Cobots in healthcare

Cobots in healthcare free up the valuable time of healthcare professionals in order to improve patient care. Cobot technology is used to sanitise rooms, to take and analyze samples, to prepare and dispense medications, and more.

In some larger facilities, robotic carts carry bed linens and even meals from floor to floor. There are also “gears and wires” robotic assistants that help paraplegics move and can administer physical therapy. There are even cobots who can take blood – which is especially good news for anyone who has been awkwardly jabbed by a needle in search of a vein by an inexperienced med student!

Cobot medical assistants can free up nurses and allow them to help more patients by monitoring vital patient statistics and alerting nurses when a human presence is needed. These robotic assistants also automatically enter information into the patient electronic health record. Robots are also assisting in surgery, allowing doctors to conduct surgery through a tiny incision instead of an inches-long incision.

Cobots on farms

Farming and robots… not two things you’d immediately link, right? Technology and cobots have actually found their place in the agriculture industry, however, helping farmers relieve manual labour. Perhaps one of the most interesting applications for cobots on farms is in feeding and handling, and in herding animals.

Drones can be used to herd animals that have been desensitised to sheepdogs, or for herding animals who become very stressed around dogs.. Drones also allow farmers to monitor their land from afar, monitor water and feed levels and check on livestock health without disturbing the animals.

With countless more innovative applications for cobots, it’s fair to say that the robots have officially landed – but they can’t quite run the world without our help just yet. What cobot would you invent given the chance?

Find out more about cobots over on RNA Automation.