Cobots (Collaborative Robots) is a key element of today’s factory, lending hands to human workers to perform tedious tasks effectively. These robots are mainly designed to work alongside their human counterparts. The early designs of cobots were focused on repetitive tasks and standardization of work. However, they have now become a sophisticated tool used by factory workers, and are making its way into the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0).
Industry 4.0 is a burgeoning concept and gaining a lot of traction across the world now. Many industry leaders discuss industry 4.0 as a coming together of cyber-physical systems, the internet of things, and cloud computing. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is typically understood to a range of manufacturing technologies that combine the physical and digital worlds, with innovations in AI, robotics, IoT, autonomous vehicles and 3D printing.
This industrial revolution also covers the impact of technological changes on civil society, governance structures, and human identity.
Cobots in Industry 4.0
Industry 4.0 generally focuses on automation, real-time data, interconnectivity, and machine learning. And cobots, in this way, is an integral part of the latest smart factories. They are armed with powerful onboard computers that can easily integrate with IoT and the factory environment.
Having the ability to glean and analyze data, cobots are able to advance information transparency for factory operators. They provide physical assistance to human workers by conducting hostile, intricate, or perilous tasks. Cobots have also played a key role in expanding companies that could not afford industrial robots to automate production.
Cobots are normally leveraged more as tools than as autonomous entities, able to facilitate decentralized decisions. In industry, they are digital products that continue evolving through software updates and their own programmability. The easy access and adaptability of this new technology is creating a string of creative applications, causing the continuous expansion of their use.
According to industry reports, the global market of collaborative robots is expected to value US$12,303 million by 2025. The market was accounted for US$710 million in 2018, growing at a CAGR of 50.31 percent throughout the projected timeframe.
The shift to Cobots Against Traditional Robots
Industrial robots have long been used to replace human workers in performing tasks that are risky, hazardous, or repetitive. These robots are often large, cumbersome, caged machines doing the heavy lifting in packaging and palletizing. However, compared to these robots, cobots come into the real world, working safely alongside humans in shared workspaces.
With its increased flexibility and dexterity, cobots have the potential to complete more delicate tasks compared to conventional robots, such as polishing fragile materials in production processes. Cobots are even smaller in size, lighter in weight, and safer in work operations than conventional industrial robots.
These robots are more accurate and flexible with advanced sensor technology, AI, Lidar, GPS, and connectivity. The machine learning software has also made them more versatile, not just in their hardware, but in software that facilitates adaptation to a large number of tasks.
Thus, cobots seemed to be significant players in the expansion of industry 4.0 in years to come, thanks to its physical interaction with humans in a shared workplace. These robotic partners are also called as the future of work, especially in the manufacturing sector, fueling automation to a new next level.