With suitable examples, elucidate the role being played by and future potential of Collaborative bots (Cobots) in various sectors.

Published: November 13, 2017

Cobot or a Collaborative robot which is designed to work alongside humans in a shared work environment. They stand in contrast to robots which are primarily autonomous and have limited guidance. They are also known as Intelligent Assist Device. They are designed to relieve the human worker from the excess workload. They have achieved tremendous progress in India where they are instrumental in job creation and adding to the competitiveness of small businesses.
Role in Industry:

  • Cobots are widely adopted by the automotive, electronics, textiles, healthcare, packing sectors etc. as they are highly useful in competitive manufacturing.
  • They are becoming popular due to features like ease-of-use, flexibility and safety. They are thus placed in key positions where they merely require human input to feed basic information. In contrast to industrial robots, they don’t require any fencing for the protection of human workers.
  • They also find the place in MSMEs where they can be engaged in functions like the packaging of FMCG products, drilling jobs etc.
  • They can be employed in multiple tasks from autonomous roles which have the capability to work with humans to the ones which can react to human presence.
  • They require less maintenance and thus do not add to the maintenance load for the exchequer.
  • They help in bolstering productivity as the downtime gets reduced by almost 80%.

Future potential:
Many governments in the world are encouraging automation to boost economic growth. Significant resources are being spent on research and development of these devices which have the potential to revolutionise the industrial output and growth. However, the governments have to walk the line with care and acknowledge the need to create a state of the art robot-manufacturing ecosystem in India. There have to considerable effort towards designing and development capabilities of these especially in fields of robotics, AI, machine learning and automation. Mere import or end-user approach can spell doom for the economy as many industrial jobs will be lost along with the creation of advanced technology jobs in other places.      

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