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Webrain Reports Archive

#218 - Collaborative Robotics: Human and Machine Symbiosis

A society and industry powered by an army of robot workers has been a mainstay of science fiction stories for many years. Over the last 60 years, robots have steadily been integrated into many industrial settings; if fact, McKinsey has predicted that a full third of workers in the US will be replaced by automation and robots by 2030. While there are many different types of robots for many different applications, Webrain notes that there are two key trends that are impacting the human-machine relationship in the workplace: Cobots and Robotics-as-a-Service (RaaS).

 

  • Cobots (which stands for Collaborative Robots) have been developed to make industrial robots safe to operate around human workers. Unlike some robots that need to be sequestered within a steel cage to protect humans from its moving parts, cobots have the awareness and “intelligence” to work alongside someone without risk of injury.
     

  • RaaS represents a continuation of the “as a service” model that includes examples such as Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and Mobility-as-a-Service (MaaS). With RaaS, companies can avoid the large initial capital investments usually needed to deploy robots, and instead buy robotic services as needed (for example, they will pay a set price for each item picked in a warehouse setting).

 

Even though there are instances of workers resisting the presence of robots in the workplace, research shows that they tend to be accepted when there is a clear benefit. Additionally, there’s evidence that the presence of robots can actually improve human-to-human communications and the workers alter their social dynamics to adapt to the changing workplace.