A new type of collaborative robot, commonly referred to as a “co-bot,” could allow employees to safely work alongside robots. Although traditional robots work separately from humans and follow a set program that dictates their movements, co-bots use sensors to react to their environment and a human controller’s commands.
Co-bots can provide a number of opportunities for manufacturers, as they are relatively inexpensive and don’t require additional safety devices in order to operate. However, co-bots can also present serious risks to humans. For example, if a co-bot is carrying and moving an object, it is programmed to stop if it encounters physical resistance. But, a co-bot can still cause significant damage before it stops if it is carrying a sharp or otherwise hazardous object.
Although co-bots do not currently have a set of safety standards, a preliminary set of guidelines regarding their use was released in January and may be adopted as the official standards within the next few years.
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