In the modern day, robots have significantly changed from the big fenced gadgets that performed dangerous and repetitive work to collaborative gadgets capable of working with humans in the same workspace. Technological advancements have brought about revolutions in the development of smart phones and autonomous vehicles.
In the same way, innovations in the robot industry have seen the development of more proficient and smaller robots known as collaborative robots. Apart from being lightweight, they are affordable and capable of working alongside humans in the same workspace. Collaborative robots can execute different tasks such as gripping small components, learning, and recognizing edge cases.
Cobots are relatively new with studies carried out by universal-robots.com showing that they form a small fraction of the billion dollars industrial robot market. However, they are expected to grow tremendously in the coming years. The robotics industry has faced some challenges such as
· Dexterity problems
There are limited mechanical and gripping capabilities
· Vision problems
Experts are yet to enhance vision technology to enable robots to recognize and navigate through objects. Many organizations have been fencing their robots in order to protect employees from injuries.
· Low return on investment
Limited labor costs have made it impossible to incorporate robotics in different fields such as manufacturing and agriculture.
Below is an analysis of how collaborative robots are transforming the manufacturing, agriculture, e-commerce, and food service economics, and ways in which organizations are utilizing them to counter technological challenges.
· How Collaborative Robots are Influencing
Vision systems which could help robots recognition and safe navigation through objects were not adequately considered during the escalation of robots in various factories across the globe. Many robots are designed to execute redundant tasks in highly organized spaces. This means that robots had to be fenced to prevent injuries.
This is now changing with ongoing advancements in the robotics industry. Recently, vision hardware has become more effective, extensive, and cheaper. Many startup companies are using vision enabled collaborative robots complete with sensors that can function in the same workplace with humans.
Cobots were invented in the late 90s and are available in various sizes and shapes. They are autonomous and easy to program and are lightweight compared to past industrial robots which were heavy and rigid. Collaborative robots can easily be used in smaller organizations since they are flexible and able to work within restricted areas.
Some of the operations that they perform efficiently include, executing cognitive tasks, delivery of medical devices, and aiding 3D printers. In the future, robotic vision is expected to improve especially with the ongoing advancements in the field.
· Where we are presently
Teaching robots object manipulation and mapping is still a challenge. However, various research developments indicate continued success in single shot learning where collaborative robots can identify new components without the need for extensive training. In the future, robots will probably learn tasks by watching humans execute the same.
Probably they will be programmed via virtual reality gesture regulation. This technology is still in its early stages but advancements have seen the advent of proper systems which can function alongside humans. Presently, automated guided vehicles and collaborative robot arms have become popular in warehouse and manufacturing settings.
Robots are capable of executing predictable and redundant tasks. However, when it comes to less organized tasks such as picking items randomly, some special handling cycles require algorithm calculation. Automated guided vehicles should be entirely collaborative in order to identify human barriers and respond accordingly.
With the continued advancement of collaborative robots vision, their adoption will also increase. Due to enhanced capability and safety, these systems will be in high demand and this will prompt startups to develop a more innovative computer vision which will create a conclusive response loop.
While many organizations are adopting robots, researchers and developers are yet to innovate the dexterity and smart features that organizations are searching for. Dexterity especially is a major challenge in robotics but hardware advancements are transforming collaborative robots and making them more effective.