How Will Humans Work With Robots?

Christopher Harlow of Realtime Robotics weighed in on advancements in collaborative robots, or co-bots.

“Industrial robots are put behind cages, because it’s the safest way for them to interact with humans, but the desire for collaborative applications and robots working alongside people is an extraordinarily important thing, especially in the logistics space where robots might not be capable of doing everything that a human is capable of doing.

But, working together, they can both solve a problem. There’s a lot that needs to happen to ensure that industrial robots moving at high speeds and with heavy payloads can work safely alongside humans.

There’s a standard for speed and separation monitoring, but, specifically, the robots need to be able to understand exactly where the human is at any given time and be able to plan around the human should the human enter the robot’s workspace.

Simply stopping any time a human is near a robot isn’t a great solution, because the robot will effectively never be moving. If it’s working closely with the human and moving extraordinarily slow, speeds will bog down the throughput of the system.

So being able to, in real time, adapt to where a human is and plan around the human, always giving priority to the human and the safety, is the most important thing that needs to be brought into fruition for true collaborative applications in the United States today.”

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