Session 3-B

The Future of Collaborative Robotic Manufacturing

Thursday, November 3, 10:40 - 11:30 AM

Speaker(s): Larry M. Sweet

Today the deployment of industrial robots is becoming commonplace in many manufacturing environments, especially in automotive plants which account for an estimated 40% of the current industrial robotics installed base. But the full potential of robotics technology in manufacturing has only just begun to be realized, and it’s about to change at an unprecedented rate, according to many industry projections—with investments in advanced industrial robots likely to accelerate significantly over the next decade, from today’s average annual growth rates of 2% to 3%, to over 10% by 2025.

One of the keys to this potential transformation is the integration of a number of advanced new technologies into today’s robotics systems. Rather than just being used for the pre-programmed picking and placing of things, they now feature a host of advanced new functions and capabilities—from touch sensing, computer vision, and speech recognition, to heuristic intelligence and extreme mobility—making them smarter, more highly-networked, and significantly more useful in a broader range of tasks.

Perhaps most importantly, many of these advanced features have been combined to fuel the development of new kinds of machines known as Collaborative Robots (or Cobots)—robotics systems that can safely and effectively interact with human workers while performing and sharing simple and complex tasks in a shared workplace. But what makes a robot collaborative?  And how do you collaborate with one? How much of this potential for the impact of truly collaborative robots in manufacturing is available today? And what critical aspects of robotics development are industrial companies now seeking to help drive adoption? Examples are presented where collaborative robots working together with human partners increases the productivity of both, yielding substantial gains in manufacturing production.