Cobots: a novel material handling technology

Witaya Wannasuphoprasit*, Prasad Akella, Michael Peshkin, J. Edward Colgate

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

29 Scopus citations


Cobots are a class of hybrid human-controlled/computer-controlled material handling device, which can enhance ergonomics, productivity, and safety. Cobots implement software-defined virtual guiding surfaces, as well as providing some amplification of human power ('power assist'). Cobots make use of steerable nonholonomic joints to produce the guiding surfaces that aid the operator. This unique steering system, in place of powerful actuators, results in guiding surfaces that are smooth, frictionless, and intrinsically stable - making cobots particularly appropriate for safety-critical tasks. In this paper we describe the basic concepts of cobots with reference to laboratory prototypes having two or three workspace dimensions. Early industrial application in automobile final assembly plants is underway, and two cobots presently in industrial environments are described.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Society of Mechanical Engineers (Paper)
StatePublished - 1998
EventProceedings of the 1998 ASME International Mechanical Engineering Congress and Exposition - Anaheim, CA, USA
Duration: Nov 15 1998Nov 20 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering


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