Advances in robotics have enabled major industries to improve efficiency with the help of robots designed to conduct various practical operations. Traditional industrial robots are generally autonomous and isolated from humans, but a mix of human effort and mechanized vigor has emerged.
Cobots or collaborative robots are meant to share the workspace with human beings. For Cobots, human safety and collaborativeness are the top priorities. They have intricate safety mechanisms that activate when it detects a worker in close proximity. These robots are meant to physically interact with humans and augment their capabilities with improved strength, higher precision, and the potential to generate valuable data.
Humans and robot collaboration enables faster, efficient, and cost-friendly manufacturing processes. Studies say that idle time gets reduced by 85% when people work collaboratively with human-aware robots.
Advantages of Collaborative Robots
- Faster Deployment and Programming: Industrial robots usually take days to set up and start running. On the other hand, Cobots can be programmed and deployed to complete their first task in a couple of minutes. Collaborative robots are also easy to reprogram and station in another department if needed.
- Increased collaborative efficiency: Operators can simply place the parts to a conveyor or turntable when working with a collaborative robot. After that, the robot can take over and do the assembly, packaging, and labeling.
- Multi-purpose: Collaborative robots can work tirelessly and perform different tasks every day. Cobots can be programmed to undertake specific tasks such as processing, inspection, or packaging.
- Handling complex and risky work: With mechanized strength, collaborative sensing robots can lift heavy objects firmly and reduce the possibility of mishaps. By using sensor technology, cobots can do sensitive tasks with utmost precision, such as steadying surgical tools.
Applications of Cobots
Activities like polishing, grinding and deburring need the right amount of force across a product’s surface to remove excess material. With the help of internal force sensors or an external torque sensor, cobots can apply the right amount of force without damaging the product.
Cobots can capture, identify, and interpret images for quality check and filter our products that don’t comply with the company’s quality requirements. They do this with the help of machine vision to detect even the most minute flaws.
Medical or Lab Cobots
Cobots can significantly help with repetitive tasks or assist healthcare professionals in a medical setting. For instance, surgeons can depend on cobots for keeping the right tools at hand while conducting an operation. In addition, laboratories can turn to cobots for handling hazardous substances, otherwise dangerous for humans.
These collaborative robots can also keep track of available parts and materials in the inventories throughout the manufacturing cycle. Upon detecting any shortage, they can collaborate with a worker to replenish the stocks.
Challenges of Cobot Inclusion Today
Despite their many benefits, cobots still have certain limitations. One key challenge is the speed which is often compromised for safety. Unlike automated industrial machinery, cobots operate at a much slower pace. In order to overcome this challenge, there must be safer alternatives and better obstacle detection technologies.
Although cobots consume less space, there is a limitation to the amount of weight they can lift. Standard industrial robots can lift up to hundreds of kilos of weight, giving them an edge above cobots. However, collaborative bots lack the ability to detect certain obscured anomalies in a product, unlike their human counterparts. In order to conquer this limitation, cobots must be equipped with better sensor technology.
Technologies Used in Cobots
With a high amount of movement flexibility, cobots highly depend on sensor technology to monitor their surrounding environment. The technologies that go into collaborative robots include numerous temperature, pressure, optical, force, and position sensors that facilitate precise calculations for accurate movement control.
Sensors also enable preventative maintenance and access protection by monitoring system components. Several tactile sensors are used to gather information from a cobot’s joints and transmit it to the controller. Other proximity sensors such as ultrasound, infrared, and LiDAR sensors are also integral parts of cobots.
Hokuyo delivers the best quality sensors for a diverse range of applications. Our sensor technology makes it possible for humans to work harmoniously alongside autonomous robots and automated industrial equipment.
Get in touch with us to learn more about our capabilities in sensor technologies.