Imagine a robotic hand that can make you coffee, lift your bag, hold your camera, take pictures for you, screw a nail into the walls of your house or even lift hot plates off of the burner for you. Personal robots are a while away right now but, Universal Robot's Cobots can do all this and much more. Designed to work in manufacturing facilities, these Cobots are the brainchild of the Founder and CTO of Universal Robots - Esben H. Østergaard, who developed his first ronot when he was 4 years old!
Speaking at the launch of Universal Robots in India, Østergaard said, “We are delighted to introduce our advanced tools to the Indian market for increasing productivity...They work alongside their human co-workers to optimize and automate time consuming, repetitive and physically challenging activities in the production flow. Universal Robots are being used with innovative applications like Neurosurgery, Bartending, Kiosk-based manufacturing, Physiotherapy, Aviaries, and even as Chef’s assistants!”
What are Cobots?
The idea of a cobot can be traced back to the age old debate of robots replacing human beings and putting them out of jobs. That is exactly what Cobots DON'T do. Cobots are designed to perform tasks with human beings, in a shared workspace. The aim is to assist human beings in tasks that can be physically daunting or need utmost levels of precision.
Before you think these robots are similar to assembly line robots that are infamous for causing accidents, know that collaborative class robots from companies like Universal Robots come with safety features that ensure the robots stop functioning as soon as they come in contact with any humans or other unidentified obstacles. Volkswagen, take note!
Cobots & India: A good mix?
With the launch of their Cobots in India, Universal Robots is targeting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to increase efficiency and productivity. In a study conducted by MIT, at a BMW manufacturing unit, it was concluded that a cobot-human collaboration can increase procedural efficiency of a manufacturing unit by a massive 85%, as compared to a human-only or robot-only system. Another reason for the adoption of Cobots is that they are easily trainable and operable. One can simply hold the robot and make it move as per their requirements, post which the robot learns and remembers the movement to mimic it as many times as you like. As for their relevance in a country like India, Cobots can definitely boost the ‘Make in India’ morale, as labour intensive tasks that were earlier off-shored, can now be completed within the country itself.
That said, these Cobots don’t come cheap. As per an estimate given by Pradeep David, General Manager, Universal Robots India, a single cobot hand can cost upto Rs. 20 lakhs, and that is sans any modifications a particular industry might require. Their cost though, does not seem to be taking away from their demand. Industry research points out that the Cobots market is likely to be valued at $1 billion by 2019. In India, Universal Robots will offer collaborative robot arms- UR3, UR5 and UR10 named after the respective payloads they can handle in kilos. The company is also working with big ticket names like Bajaj Auto, to automate their manufacturing processes.
Let us know your thoughts on Cobots in our comments section below. We are also coming up with a cool demo video of the UR 5 soon. So, stay tuned to Digit!