Robotics have been around for many years, with the idea of robots helping humans being depicted in Science Fiction in early books, comics and films. Robots have been evolving with design and use as we have been working with them to carry out various tasks.
So what is a cobot? Wikipedia defines Cobots as:
A cobot or co-robot (from collaborative robot) is a robot intended to physically interact with humans in a shared workspace. This is in contrast with other robots, designed to operate autonomously or with limited guidance, which is what most industrial robots were up until the decade of the 2010s.
Robots have often been seen as a replacement for humans in many roles, however cobots are not, instead working with and interacting with humans in various tasks and levels. Cobots have been around for the past few years, mainly in industrial workplaces such as manufacturing , automotive and supply chains. Their evolution is now bringing cobots into many other workplaces and use cases.
The Automotive industry is probably the best example of using robots that then move to cobots in the workplace, working with humans in assembling cars. The future of the automated car is turning the vehicle into a cobot and will probably be one of the cobots people with interact with the most in the future.
Advancements in cobots are coming from the universities and private companies developing new ways of interacting and enhancing tasks/jobs such as:
Imagine your working buddy is a cobot that can perform tasks hand in hand with you, take over if you need to do something else, increase its speed of completing the tasks, then sense your return and slow to the speed your working at.
The increase of cobots in the workplace does have an impact on legalities in the workplace and many questions still remain unanswered. There are discussions on robot/cobot rights and should they pay taxes (the companies that use them).
There is a growing place for cobots within the workplace and we will be working with them more and more as new cobots and ways of working are produced, however it may be a while until we get to a fully AI/Cobotic Workplace.
References / Further Reading
Classification of “Cobotic Systems” for “Industrial Applications”
Meet the cobots: humans and robots together on the factory floor
Man and machine: The new collaborative workplace of the future
The robots are coming: legalities in the workplace
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