Technology developments and high demand for collaborative robots point to a promising future for the technology as manufacturers find new uses for them.
Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE Media
The future of collaborative robots is bright. The market is projected to grow rapidly in the short-term; collaborative robots can quickly and cost-effectively address some of manufacturers’ most pressing problems. In addition to this robust market growth, collaborative robot technology is evolving to keep up with demand for more productive robotic solutions.
Amidst all of this growth and technological evolution, what exactly does the future of collaborative robots look like?
There are a number of new technologies for collaborative robots. Chief among them is advanced embedded vision systems, which are at the heart of how collaborative robots operate so safely by identifying the presence of humans and unsafe operations. Further, embedded vision helps collaborative robots identify the location and orientation of parts, allowing them to operate more flexibly and reliably.
New gripper technology allows collaborative robots to work with a wider range of materials in more applications. For example, new forms of soft grippers allow collaborative robots to gently grasp items such as fruit and vegetables without damaging the product.
Future collaborative robot capabilities
One of the most immediate improvements that collaborative robots are likely to see are extensive interactive features. This may come in the form of recognizing voice commands for more seamless collaboration with human workers. Even more advanced versions of interactivity may include advanced vision systems that recognize which stage of production a human worker is completing, allowing the robot to then perform the required tasks without any operator interference.
Another future capability of collaborative robots may be their ability to perform unrestricted movements. Rather than performing pre-programmed tasks repeatedly, collaborative robots could be intelligent enough to move away from programmed instructions to accurately complete tasks in unstructured environments.
Collaborative robots will advance drastically in the near future as advanced vision systems, deep learning techniques, and other new technologies create the opportunity for entirely new capabilities.