Collaborative Robot Technology (Cobot) in News

IAS Prelims 2023

Universal Robots has introduced a collaborative robot technology (Cobot) accessible to companies of all sizes.

A cobot 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.

Cobots were invented in 1996 by J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin, professors at Northwestern University. A 1997 US patent filing describes cobots as “an apparatus and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a general purpose manipulator controlled by a computer.”

Robots are expensive, but the Collaborative robot is far more affordable, priced between ₹15 and ₹22 lakh, designed to work alongside humans without danger of injury and more as a worker’s assistant or third arm.

Further, it helps companies expand operations, enhance productivity with precision and create more job opportunities in supervisory roles, as it provides automated material handling solutions.

Cobots can be used in a variety of applications such as pick and place, injection moulding, CNC, packaging, assembly, polishing, machine trending, gluing, dispensing, welding and so on.

The automobile industry, FMCG and electronics sector have taken to extensive use of the Cobot.

Universal Robot has in the first year of operations in India, completed 75 installations.

FANUC – the world’s largest producer of industrial robots – released its first collaborative robot in 2015 – the FANUC CR-35iA with a heavy 35kg payload.