What are cobots

Also known as co-robots, or more simply as collaborative robots, cobots are tools that interact with employees within the company

While talking about Industry 4.0, you can't fail to mention cobots. Also called co-robots, or in Italian more simply collaborative robots. These are intelligent machines that are able to interact and collaborate with human employees within a single shared workspace.

They are considered the industrial robots of the future and are in stark contrast to the machinery used since the 1940s in industries around the world. In fact, robots were once structured to do their work autonomously, often without the need for human intervention. In Industry 4.0, on the other hand, the aim is to create machines that can interact with the human component of a company in such a way as to make work more efficient for both parties. The cobots were invented in 1996 by J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin, two professors at Northwestern University in Illinois.

The collaborative robots

The idea on collaborative robots, however, was born a few years earlier, in 1994, from a project funded by General Motors. The goal was to create self-sufficient machines that were similar to people and that could interact with humans in a complex way. The first cobots were made for the safety, within companies or shared spaces, of people. They had no motor power and it was the human being, through the use of peripherals or special control panels, to manage their movements. Over time, cobots have also been developed with the ability to move within certain spaces. General Motors, which for years has used these androids in the management of industrial materials and in the assembly of automobile components, defines them as Intelligent Assist Devices (IAD). These systems first received a safety standard in 2002 and it was updated in 2016.

The cobot market

In addition to General Motors, many other companies have invested in making collaborative robots. For example, Cobotics has started its own production since 2002. While Universal Robots has released several cobots since 2008. Some of the most famous ones include the UR5 and UR10, plus a desktop robot called the UR3. Although the most well-known of the house is Baxter, one of the first industrial cobots similar to those used even today, which was released by Universal Robots in 2012. FANUC, the world's leading robot manufacturing company, also began investing in cobots starting in 2015.