Collaborative robots - 'cobots' - are intended for direct interaction with a human worker, handling a shared payload. They are marked departure from autonomous industrial robots which must be isolated from people for safety reasons. Cobots are also distinct from teleoperators, in which a human operator controls a robot and payload remotely. Cobots interact with people by producing software-defined 'virtual surfaces' which constrain and guide the motion of the shared payload, but add little or no power. Ergonomic as well as productivity benefits result from combining the strength and computer-interface of the cobot with the sensing and dexterity of the human worker. This paper explains cobots as one approach to an emerging class of materials handling equipment called Intelligent Assist Devices (IADs). We describe two cobots of this class presently in industrial testbed settings. Future applications of cobots virtual surfaces are tool guidance in image guided surgery, and haptic display in which the surfaces of a CAD model can be felt.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Control and Systems Engineering
- Computer Science Applications
- Industrial and Manufacturing Engineering