Collaborative robots, or cobots, are gaining popularity due to their versatility and ability to work alongside human workers. While they have already made considerable progress in factory settings, cobots are now making their way into our homes and workplaces. According to a recent report by Business Wire, the global market for collaborative robots is expected to grow from USD $1.1 Billion in 2022 to USD $9.2 Billion by 2028, with the manufacturing industry being the largest user of cobots.
Cobots have revolutionized manufacturing by enabling increased productivity, efficiency, and safety. They are being used for a variety of tasks such as assembly, packaging, and quality control. For example, FMO Surface, a small company in Germany, implemented a KUKA cobot to check the quality of their plastic parts and work with a human to replace faulty parts. The cobot resulted in a significant increase in precision and efficiency of their quality control, and it was easily set up and trained, despite the company not employing any engineers.
Cobots may also be used in our homes for tasks such as cleaning, cooking, and gardening. Researchers from the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia have demonstrated a cobot that can work with a human to assemble a table that would typically require two people. Additionally, cobots can assist people with disabilities, elderly individuals, and children. For example, researchers from Zhejiang University and ABB Corporate Research have developed a system where a caregiver may remotely operate a cobot using a motion capture system to aid dementia patients with day-to-day tasks, such as picking up medicine.
In service industries, such as healthcare and hospitality, cobots may be used to assist with tasks such as patient care, medication management, and hospital logistics. Researchers from Carnegie Mellon University have demonstrated a cobot’s ability to safely pull a hospital gown over a person’s arm. They can also be used for cleaning, room service, and customer service. During the pandemic, researchers from Nanyang Technical University developed a mobile robot with a collaborative robotic arm that can efficiently disinfect large surfaces.
The increasing presence of collaborative robots has the potential to transform various industries and enable new possibilities for human-robot collaboration. As the market for collaborative robots continues to grow, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in the future. In my next post, I will explore the ethical considerations surrounding the use of cobots and their potential impact on the future of work.
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