Cobots: when humans no longer move boxes


The cobots  are very special robots: they could not survive alone, but they are designed to develop tasks in collaboration with humans. The WeAreCOBOTS congress, which takes place these days in Madrid, aims to bring collaborative robotics to all industries, which is a key element in the re-industrialization of Europe. It is a sector that has had an increase of 70% in recent years, according to the International Federation of Robotics, and that is estimated to continue with the same trend. The head of the congress and general manager in Spain of Universal Robots, Jordi Pelegrí, explains that “with this type of robotics so flexible, they intend to cover jobs without added value, such as moving boxes or screwing, to offer jobs with cognitive tasks , such as the development of new applications or the calculation of the increase of the productivity of a factory “. It is the “Industry 4.0”, explains Pelegrí.

This is the first European congress that brings together 24 companies that expose their cobots and more than 40 experts in the collaboration between humans and robots in factories. During the 8th and 9th of May,  at the Global Robot Expo IFEMA, talks are held on the tools for collaborative robotics and their applications, four round tables on value proposals of this industry, its security, intuiting its future evolution and , finally, of mobile robotics. In addition, you can listen to the experiences of clients and initiatives of interest in the collaborative ecosystem.

According to the report The Future of Jobs Report 2018 of the World Economic Forum , up to 2025 will create 130 million jobs in this sector, although it is true that 50 million will be destroyed, so we will speak of an increase of around 70 millions of jobs. Therefore, according to Pelegrí, one can speak of an evolution and reconversion of jobs. In addition, the idea of ​​the challenge involved in education is reinforced, insisting on continuous training. The head of WeAreCOBOTS defends that one of his missions is “that the worker who was dedicated to move boxes, with an easy training, is able to work with the robot as a tool”.

The cobots are created to guarantee the safety of human workers when they come into direct contact with them. This is achieved by means of thresholds that are defined for this type of situation, in which both its force and its speed are controlled. As this technology is already consolidated in the industry sector, the next step in terms of innovation is to achieve,  explains Pelegrí, is to nurture these intelligence robots, and get each one to perform specific functions. An example is to give them eyes so that they are able to take the pieces in a much more autonomous way.

The difference that can be observed between the tasks carried out by the cobots and by the human workers is clear. In the first case, the skills that it contributes are related to strength, resistance and precision, while the contributions of the employees have to do with the skill, flexibility and resolutive capacity.

The change can often be seen with some fear, and the case of the insertion of robots in the processes of industrialization, is no less. Many of the workers think about the possible loss of their job with the incorporation of this machinery in their factories. However, Pelegrí affirms that according to the data of the World Economic Forum “the countries where there is a greater density of robots (calculating the amount of these by number of inhabitant), coincide with the same countries in which the lowest rates can be found of unemployment, as are the cases of Japan or Germany. “


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