Robotics technology is getting faster, smarter and more talkative, but just how useful can robots be?
The new, so-called high-performance cobot, is designed to do machine tending, circuit board testing and other precise tasks previously thought impractical to automate.
Motion control allows it to seemingly ‘feel’ its way into certain fixtures or machines, giving it the ability to adapt while performing tasks.
There is also an inbuilt camera which means it can re-orientate itself in environments and deal with some real-world conditions, according to developers.
Jerome Laplace is the CEO
“I think the future for cobots will be to have cobots more and more efficient, more and more easy to programme. The idea is not to have a single robot in a single place for many months, but to have a robot doing many tasks in just one day.”
Robots can also help by assisting humans in strenuous tasks. Paris-based RB 3D has developed an industrial exoskeleton, named Exo Push
Equipped with a harness and hand sensor, it is designed to give workers amplified force while carrying out rigorous industrial tasks.
They claim it can multiply a humans strength by ten, meaning more work done and one less tired worker as Olivier Baudet from RB 3D explains: “One road worker has to spread 35 tonnes per day, this is awful yeah? So with this machine we multiply strength by ten, so the workers shifts only 3.5 tonnes, which is very good for him. So at the end of the day, they are less tired and able to do more work, all-day long.”
Another prototype has been designed to assist people with disabilities. A robotic arm is called Jaco 3 Fingers
created by a Canadian company with the aim of assisting disabled people using power wheelchairs. The robotic arm helps carry out simple tasks without the help of a carer.
The three fingers boast high-friction rubber pads, making grasping objects easier. It has 70 cm reach and can perform a combination of 16 different movements.
That means the users can even carefully balance a business card on top of a tower of objects as François Boucher explains: “Imagine that you’re stuck in a power wheelchair so you can just slightly move your arms or don’t move your arms at all and then suddenly with the arm, you can eat by yourself, drink by yourself, instead of having a caregiver that is going at your home to feed you.”
“Grillbot”: claims to be the world’s first automatic grill-cleaning robot.
Fixed with nylon brushes, Grillbot is a fully-automated device, which is driven by a central processing unit which controls movement, speed and the direction of its brushes.
All the owner is required to do is push a button and watch the tiny robot busily scrape away grease and grime.
Grillbot founder, Ethan Woods, claims to have already sold over 80,000 units around the world. Not bad for an idea he had when hastily preparing a meal for guests:“I was having company over, I was getting the grill ready, I open it up, it was a dirty, greasy mess and my brush was broken. All the bristles were smashed in, it wouldn’t work. So instead of going back into town to buy a new brush, I went into my garage and got my power drill, I attached a brush to it, I started cleaning the grill with the power drill and I thought to myself: ‘Why can’t you just push a button? Why do I have to stand here over this hot grill and do this?”
Flexible, useful, highly performant, cobots and robots in the workplace make it a developers dream, critics fear they could bring mass unemployment
and a new era of social inequality.