6 Cobots On the Job

This article is based in part on a story that originally appeared in It Is Innovation (i3) magazine, published by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA)®.

Overview Cobots — collaborative or companion robots — are helping and entertaining humans in a variety of ways, even learning as they go.

Collaborative robots are standing side by side with their human counterparts in production lines, laboratories, warehouses and more, often handling tasks more efficiently and safely. In social settings, companion robots are entertaining and help their human friends, offering interactive pet care, health care assistance, chore assistance and more.

These two types of cobots have quickly become indispensable partners in the way we live and work. Setting them apart from traditional industrial robots, cobots are artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled to learn and advance over time.

Many are programmed to perform specific tasks but are still able to improve as they adjust to humans’ work habits. Other cobots are voice-controllable in real time, a step up from the traditional robots that require pre-programming.

Here are six cobots that are keeping humans company at work and at home.

 

Smart Robots

Italian firm Smart Robots develops industrial robots that combine perception and reasoning capabilities. The moderately sized robot, which can be placed on a stand or on a wall, provides real-time mapping of the workspace and recognition of people’s movements, actions and gestures.

The mapping allows employers to improve process quality and reduce human errors.

The company has found that the cobot process generates a 90% reduction of human errors.

 

FANUC America

At CES 2020, FANUC America, a 50-year-old robot manufacturer, demonstrated new cobot capabilities, including 3D vision cameras and voice-activated features.

FANUC’s industrial cobots carry built-in sensors that allow them to work alongside humans without expensive guarding barriers. The cobots are also able to detect colors and shapes at high speeds, helping in production, distribution and packaging tasks.

 

SoftBank’s Pepper

Pepper, SoftBank’s human-shaped robot, was developed as a companion that can perceive and act on human emotions. The friendly robot, which has now been deployed across businesses in retail and restaurant venues as well as in classrooms, is able to tell jokes, dance and make personalized recommendations.

Pepper is also able to gather data over the course of conversations, learning people’s tastes, traits, preferences and habits, to help better personalize responses and address needs in the future.

 

Omron Automation

Omron Automation showcased Forpheus at CES 2020. The emotion-reading cobot is able to interpret body language and then generate messages of advice and encouragement.

At CES 2020, Forpheus was seen playing ping pong. During the game, it predicts an opponent’s next shot by tracking the movements of the ball, player and racket with high speed and accuracy. Forpheus can determine the skill level of the player and adapt by adjusting the speed and location of the returns.

 

Pillo Health

Working with Black & Decker, Pillo Health launched a pharmaceutical dispensing companion robot. The device, Pria, wakes up and alerts the patient to take the pills that are dispensed.

Connected through a remote health care system, Pria allows caregivers and health care providers to monitor the patient’s health.

 

AV1

When a student is unable to attend class in person, AV1, a telepresence robot, can raise its hand in the classroom and convey the remote child’s questions. It acts as the child’s eyes, ears and voice in the classroom.

The robot is focused on reducing children’s isolation. For those pupils with long-term illness who are unable to attend classes in person, AV1 allows them to interact with their peers via an app on their phone or tablet, as close to a real classroom experience as possible.
 
Learn more about cobots and their accelerating acceptance in i3 magazine.

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