6 Cobot Myths Debunked
What is the definition of a Cobot?
“Collaborative robots are complex machines which work hand in hand with human beings. In a shared work process, they support and relieve the human operator.”
On the more technical side of things what makes a robot ”collaborative” is the fact that they can detect abnormal activity in their environment through force limitation or vision monitoring. These sensors allow for cooperation between humans and robots without any physical separation.
Most importantly, a cobot answers to the 4th criteria of safe collaboration which is force and power limitation. In fact, all collaborative robots have force sensors in their joints which stops their motion in case of an impact.
This allows you to run the robot at full speed and not worry about the potential danger of the kinetic energy being carried by this robot arm.
It’s hard to ignore the cobot buzz. Since collaborative robots burst on the scene more than a decade ago, they’ve made automation accessible and affordable for many organisations for whom traditional robotics were out of reach.
But smart automation means evaluating your specific requirements to make an accurate and informed choice. The industry is changing rapidly and new robotic capabilities are blurring the lines between collaborative and industrial robots.
At the same time, standards organisations are creating guidelines to keep workers safe as they interact with robots in a wide range of applications and environments.
But what are the misconceptions about Cobots and how do they truly differ from other types of robot?
A Cobot is not an industrial robot
Although cobots were designed to be lightweight, robust and easy to use, they can also be designed as powerful industrial tools that can be successfully integrated with existing machinery and other robots through PLCs and sophisticated programming software.
Cobots are the only collaborative robots
Cobots in particular were designed specifically to work alongside humans, and they also provide the versatility, user-friendliness, small footprint, and affordability that help define collaborative robotics.
Almost any robot can claim to be collaborative with the correct safety mechanisms in place (as per ISO/TS 15066 standards). Cobots are the only robots that were designed specifically to work alongside humans, and that also provide the versatility, user-friendliness, small footprint, and affordability that help define collaborative robotics.
A Cobot is always safe to use alongside human workers
Every automated application where humans are present requires a risk assessment—and that includes cobots.
Based on the assessment, a collaborative application may still require safety mechanisms such as light curtains, safety mats, or reduced robot speed.
But cobots are designed to be used within a collaborative workspace and have built-in safety mechanisms to support this use. A vast majority of Universal Robots cobots are used without safety cages.
Cobots will replace jobs
With the U.S. unemployment rate remaining at 3.5 percent, the lowest in 50 years, 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day in the U.S. and few millennials interested in joining the manufacturing industry, cobots do not replace workers, they staff the repetitive tasks companies simply can’t fill.
With cobots, manufacturers can reduce the number of human workers required for monotonous or injury-prone tasks and redeploy them into higher-value jobs.
Often, the arrival of cobots significantly boosts manufacturers’ global competitiveness, enabling them to outbid competitors in low-wage countries, reshore work, and hire more people locally.
Cobots are slow-moving
With extra safety devices installed, such as light curtains or safety mats, a cobot can work faster than a human and then either stop or reduce speed once a person enters the work envelope.
Even in applications that handle tasks at the same speed as an employee would, cobots do so consistently without stopping or slowing down over time, which typically increases productivity and quality.
A Cobot is not suitable for precision handling
Cobots are suitable for very precise finishing, assembly and electronics tasks. Some cobot models now feature a repeatability of 50 micron (0.05mm).
With built-in, tool-centric force/torque sensors, cobots can handle applications where force-feedback is paramount in order to obtain uniform results and repeatability.
Regardless of definition, Cobots are here to stay. Safe and productive robots will win a significant percentage of all robot sales
Collaborative robots include a number of technological innovations that make them ideal, when compared to industrial robots, in a number of applications.
Demand for collaborative robots, because of their flexibility, safety and productivity, is expected to increase sharply over the next few years, with sustained growth projected over the next decade.
The foreseeable future of collaborative robots includes robust growth and expansion into a wide range of diverse industries.
While some technological barriers still exist for the maturation of collaborative robot technology, other innovations are driving the industry forward and market projections suggest collaborative robots will be increasingly profitable inside and outside of the factory setting.