What is a cobot?
A cobot is a collaborative robot, a robot able to work with human, assist them, collaborate with them, without harming them.
Traditional industrial robots are fenced off humans to avoid injuring them while moving or working. Unlike cobots, traditional robots cannot notice human presence and adapt their behavior. Usually a safety barrier will put the robot on hold when trespassed.
Cobots are meant to assist their human colleagues, taking over repetitive, dangerous hard work or extending human abilities e.g. Lifting heavy weight, reduce fatigue, and so on.
Cobots can take over the non-value-adding operation, freeing humans for more valuable tasks. Cobots could boost productivity.
Cobots could be a solution to ease working in general, in some industries where operations are heavy-duty and help aging workforce to keep their jobs. Cobots could serve as mentors and assistants, cybernetic reminders, knowledge base and many more.
Cobots may help overcome the relunctancy for industrial jobs often quoted as Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult.
At first. The idea to assist and relief the aging and stressed human workers with a gentle, care taking cybernetic colleague sounds good.
These cobots will compensate many human weaknesses, hence improve quality and productivity. All the chores will be pushed onto them, while the human worker, thanks to his human status and alleged capabilities, is the leader of this pair or pack.
Cobots would remind their human colleague not to forget again this or that operation, adapt their speed to him and go on with work restlessly while he/she enjoys coffee break.
In a process involving humans, the human link is the weakest link of the chain. Unreliable, highly variable in mood and performance, needing periodic rest.
Yet humans have human abilities like adjust to unexpected events, learn from experience or solve problems. These made them unique and valuable in semi-automatic processes despite all other numerous weaknesses. At least until technology catches up.
Related >Examples of cobots