An Introduction to Collaborative Robotics

Collaborative robotics has great potential to grow into one of the most important innovations in the field. In this article, we talk about what collaborative robots are, what makes them unique, and the benefits of adopting them in the workplace.

Industrial Robotics Engineer Uses Tablet Computer to Program and Manipulate Robot Arm

What is Collaborative Robotics?

Collaborative robotics is a field in robotics that specifically focuses on developing collaborative robots, or cobots. These are new types of robots designed to work alongside humans, augmenting the production line and boosting efficiency. These are flexible, cost-effective, and easy-to-deploy robots that are making automation easier and more accessible for various companies.

While the traditional manufacturing robot works in a space that’s specifically designed for the robot, cobots work in conjunction with humans. This doesn’t eliminate the need for human labor, but it reduces it. This allows the human employees to focus on a range of other tasks that cannot be automated, making for a more efficient production line.

Collaborative vs Traditional Robots

Traditional robots and cobots are two completely different technologies. While they may seem similar, if not identical, on the surface, they vary greatly from each other. And the biggest difference between these two technologies is that one is designed to work in its own space, while the other can work with humans for even more efficiency.

Traditional robots can be dangerous in the workplace. Since these robots typically work autonomously, human employees don’t have that much protection when these machines are working. But with collaborative robots, there is an added safety layer as these machines will be able to respond to human intervention.

For example, a common accident that occurs when working with traditional robots is crushing and trapping accidents. With collaborative robots, there is a much lesser chance of this happening as engineers need to ensure that cobots can work in conjunction with humans without these dangerous risks.

One of the first times we saw a cobot in manufacturing is when GM Motors developed a robot wherein the humans provide the power and direction for the robot. However, the cobot would be able to steer itself with incredible precision which kept the human employees safe while ensuring that all the products passed quality control standards.

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Benefits of Collaborative Robots

Adopting collaborative robots in the workplace is a great option for many companies. Cobots are a huge step-up compared to traditional manufacturing robots in almost every aspect. Here are a few of the key benefits that companies get whenever they make the shift to cobots.


Generally, cobots pose a much lesser risk to human employees compared to traditional robots. These robots are much better suited for environments that require flexibility and adaptability. Traditional robots are rigid and you don’t get that much flexibility with them. On the flip side, cobots are very flexible and can easily work alongside a human workforce, creating a much safer environment for everyone involved.

Fast Installation

Traditional robots can take a few days and sometimes up to a week before they are up and running and ready for installation. With cobots, all it takes is a few hours before you can start using them in the production line. This reduces the need to shut down production and make adjustments just so you can install a new piece to the production line.


Cobots are very advanced and you can easily program instructions in just a few minutes. This means that you can simply adjust the robot’s actions for different needs. That way, you don’t have to use different robots for various tasks in the workplace.

Consistency and Accuracy

Another major advantage of cobots is their accuracy. No matter how skilled a human worker is, they cannot compare with the accuracy and consistency of a computer-powered robot. Cobots allow you to remain much more consistent and efficient in production, which not only reduces costs, but it can also increase profit!

Collaborative Robotics Applications in Manufacturing

Cobots can be used in various industries. However, they typically offer the most benefits to those working in the manufacturing industry. There are many ways you can apply cobots in manufacturing because of their accuracy, consistency, and adaptability.

Some of the key ways that companies employ cobots in their manufacturing processes include:

  • Welding
  • Dispensing
  • Finishing
  • Material Handling
  • Quality inspections

You can specifically program cobots to work in precise environments that require adaptability. They are designed to work with humans, making them a great option for many companies and organizations. These are huge technological developments that can create a much more efficient production line and be applied in many other industries.

FAQs about Collaborative Robotics

There are various types of cobots available on the market. However, the four types of cobots as defined by ISO include safety monitored stop, speed and separation, power and force limiting, and hand guiding cobots.

The biggest disadvantage of the current cobots is that they lack the power, sp[eed, and scope of traditional robots. However, considering the speed at which this field is developing, it won’t be long until these problems are solved.

While typically used in the manufacturing industry, there are many other industries that use cobots. These industries include agriculture, automotive, food packaging, metalwork, research, and healthcare industries.

To ensure that your cobots work as intended and that they last a long time, proper maintenance is key. It’s important to perform regular inspections on your cobots to ensure that everything is working properly. That way, the cobots perform in a safer and more efficient manner.

Leon Altomonte
Article by

Leon Altomonte

SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. With his language degree and years of experience in content writing, he delivers well-researched, informative articles about safety, quality, and operational excellence. In addition to his professional pursuits, Leon maintains a creative outlet as a performing musician.