The collaborative robotics sector is expected to increase tenfold by 2020.
Collaborative robots (also called co-bots) are designed to work alongside human workers, assisting them with a variety of tasks. Because co-bots are affordable, highly adaptable, and almost plug-and-play, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are eager to adopt this technology, and some analysts (myself included) expect this segment will see massive growth in the next few years.
There are many reasons for the emergence of collaborative robots: companies are using them because they can be placed alongside humans in small-spaced electronics assembly lines, because they are affordable and easily trainable, and because they are flexible to handle short runs, repetitive and boring jobs, and ergonomically challenging tasks.
Industrial robots are caged to keep humans safe and out of harm’s way. Service robots are meant to safely leave the cage while doing tasks for humans. Collaborative robots come in all sizes and shapes and have integrated sensors and soft and rounded surfaces for safety purposes and to reduce the risk of impact, pinching and crushing. The biggest safety feature of collaborative robots is their force-limited joints, which are designed to sense forces due to impact and quickly react.