What is a cobot?


By Simon Shah, Chief Marketing Officer, Redwood Software

Robots are a threat to your job, right? They must be.

The ‘robots are coming for your job’ line has been a ubiquitous spectre of our technological futures for much of the past five years. The perception hasn’t always been like this though – and indeed, still isn’t in countries that take a more inclusive and collaborative view of robots.

Japan, for example, has put robots at the heart of its elderly care strategy and expects that four out of five recipients of care will accept assistance from robots by 2020.

The idea of these ‘collaborative robots’ has been around (in various forms) for a few years already in the physical robotics world, and are generally seen as a positive addition to (and by) the workforce.

Sarcos’ Guardian series of exoskeleton robots are a tangible and easy-to-grasp example of how robotics can enable new possibilities for humans, and ABI Research predicts that the market for physical ‘cobots’ will grow to $1 billion by 2020.

The beneficial coexistence of humans and physical robots is well understood: Robots will remove the most arduous and repetitive tasks and enhance human ability, rather than replace it entirely.

However, this coexistence is harder for many to understand when it relates to collaboration with more ‘invisible’ forms of robotics.

Within the world of back-office, process-based robotics and workload automation the notion of a cobot is still one that’s widely misunderstood, but one where the benefits to employees and the wider business far outweigh the scaremongering.

If robotic arms allow a person to lift a 1,000lbs load like it’s a feather, then robotic business processes provide the same enhancements for the back office, only instead of lifting heavy objects, it’s breaking down complex IT and operational challenges to a human scale and removing the most mundane parts of each process.

The adoption and capabilities of existing forms of robotics – both industrial and back office – isn’t a trend that’s set to abate any time soon, but the good news is that a proactive employee that can use robots to enhance their abilities will always be in demand.

Categories:   Robotics  

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