What is a Collaborative Robot?

Collaborative robots, as the name suggests, are where robots and humans ,robots and robots can work together on the production line to give full play to the efficiency of robots and human intelligence. This kind of robot is not only cost-effective, but also safe and convenient, which can greatly promote the development of manufacturing enterprises.

As a new type of industrial robot, the collaborative robot removes the obstacles of human-machine collaboration and allows the robot to completely get rid of the shackles of guardrails or cages. Its groundbreaking product performance and wide range of applications have opened up new possibilities for the development of industrial robots.


The smart factory of the future is created by the harmonious coexistence of humans and machines, which requires robots to cooperate with humans and complete different tasks with humans. This includes not only accomplishing the traditional tasks that people can’t do, what people don’t want to do, and what people don’t do well, but also the complex tasks that can reduce human labor intensity and improve the quality of human life. Because of this, human-machine collaboration can be regarded as a necessary attribute of new industrial robots.

Main advantages

Human-machine collaboration has brought fundamental changes to the industrial production and manufacturing of future factories, and has decisive and important advantages:

① The maximum flexibility in the production process.

②Undertake manual processes that cannot be automated and are not ergonomic before, reducing the burden on employees.

③Reduce the risk of injury and infection, such as using a dedicated human-machine collaboration gripper.

④Complete repeatable processes with high quality without the need to invest according to types or workpieces.

⑤Adopt a built-in sensor system to improve productivity and equipment complexity.

Based on the advantages of human-machine collaboration and conforming to market demand, a more flexible collaborative robot has become a feasible solution for undertaking assembly and extraction tasks. It can maximize the respective advantages of humans and robots, allowing robots to better cooperate with workers and adapt to a wider range of work challenges.

Main features

The main features of collaborative robots are:

1. Lightweight

Make the robot easier to control and improve safety.

2. Friendly

Ensure that the surface and joints of the robot are smooth and flat, without sharp corners or gaps that are easy to pinch the operator.

3. Perception

Perceive the surrounding environment and change one’s own actions according to changes in the environment.

4. Human-machine collaboration

It has a sensitive force feedback feature, it will stop immediately when the set force is reached, and there is no need to install a protective fence after the risk assessment so that humans and robots can work together.

5. Easy to program

For some ordinary operators and non-technical background personnel, it is very easy to program and debug.

Human-machine collaboration

The development of intelligent manufacturing is inseparable from robots. The development of intelligent robots is the only way to build an intelligent manufacturing equipment platform and improve the automation and intelligence level of the manufacturing process.

In 1959, the Americans produced the world’s first industrial robot. Since then, robots have gradually become popular in the industrial field. With the continuous advancement of science and technology, especially the advent of Industry 3.0, automated production lines that widely use industrial robots have become the core equipment of the manufacturing industry.

However, in the era of smart manufacturing, in order to respond to consumers’ increasing demand for customized products, smart factories need to make full use of existing resources in a limited space to build flexible, safe and rapidly changing smart production lines to adapt to new products. Production, replacement of production lines, and shortening of product manufacturing time require flexible and fast production units to meet these needs, and improve the production capacity and efficiency of manufacturing enterprises, and reduce costs. Therefore, intelligent robots will become the most important hardware devices in intelligent manufacturing systems. In a sense, the overall upgrade of intelligent robots is an important part of the new round of industrial revolution. However, in certain product areas and production lines, the human operator is still indispensable, such as assembling high-precision parts and intensive labor that requires high flexibility. On these occasions, human-machine collaborative robots will play an increasing role.

The so-called human-machine collaboration means that robots are engaged in high-precision and repetitive work processes, and workers are assisted in performing creative work. The use of human-machine collaborative robots allows enterprises to obtain more flexible space for production wiring and configuration, and also improves product yield. The way of man-machine cooperation can be the division of labor between man and machine, or the work of man and machine together.

Not only that, but the development of intelligent manufacturing also requires greater changes in the relationship between humans and machines. Humans and machines must be able to understand each other, perceive each other, and help each other in order to be able to closely coordinate in space, interact naturally, and ensure mutual safety.

In the era of transformation and upgrading of the manufacturing industry, intelligent robots will penetrate more and more into our work and life. The human-machine collaboration model in which people, equipment, and machines work together can improve corporate efficiency, strengthen quality control, and enhance production flexibility, reduce logistics costs, and bring manufacturing companies closer to the market. Robots are supporting equipment for intelligent manufacturing, and human-machine collaboration will become an essential feature of the next generation of robots.

Research status and development trend

The human-machine collaboration system has experienced long-term accumulation and gradual development, especially in the last 30 years. With the continuous development of transforming artificial intelligence, the human-machine collaboration system has also entered the “fast lane” of development. Below, take the newly emerged collaborative expert system and computer integrated manufacturing system as an example to illustrate.

Collaborative expert system

Most currently existing expert systems (computers, etc.) are an “expert” in the specified professional field, but once they exceed the specific professional field, the expert system may not work. The collaborative expert system was designed to overcome the general mid-1980s. With the practical application of common sense reasoning and fuzzy theory and the maturity of deep knowledge representation technology, the expert system began to transform into a multi-knowledge representation and a multi-level comprehensive type of multi-inference engine. The collaborative expert system is based on the traditional expert system’s solution to complex problems, simplification, and the pursuit of in-depth explanation and reasoning. The realization principle is technological complementarity, from the combination of pure knowledge representation and reasoning methods, and gradually develops to the expert system structure Of synthesis.

The system can integrate several sub-expert systems in similar fields or multiple aspects of a field to work together to solve a broader problem. When studying complex issues, the determined overall task can be broken down into several sub-tasks, which are completed by several expert systems. Each expert system exerts its own strengths, solves a problem, and then synchronizes to ensure that the expert system’s reasoning is more comprehensive, accurate, and reliable. These four stages are recursive. For non-core sub-problems, this process needs to be continued, and the four stages of “recursion-resurgence” may be repeated: problem division, sub-problem allocation, core sub-problem transformation, and reasoning results Comprehensive. “Until the problem is solved. The collaborative expert system covers a wide range of medical fields, and the current organic mass diseases include a variety of lung cancer, stomach cancer, liver cancer, esophageal cancer, nasopharyngeal cancer, leukemia, etc.. The tumor refers to the development of a typical expert system, then Such an expert system can only assist in the diagnosis of one type of cancer: this is a waste of manpower and resources. Collaborative expert systems such as the “Malignant Tumor Diagnosis and Treatment Expert System” can well assist doctors in diagnosing various cancers and respond accordingly. Local treatment plan Doctors and expert systems (computers, etc.) collaborate with each other, which not only saves doctors’ time, collaborative expert systems are also widely used in medical diagnosis, weather, chemical engineering, financial decision-making, geological prospecting, voice recognition, image processing, etc. aspect. And other fields.

Computer Integrated Manufacturing System

In modern manufacturing, computer integrated manufacturing systems are developing rapidly. The computer integrated manufacturing system was first proposed by the American scholar Joseph Harrington in 1973. It refers to the comprehensive use of modern management technology, manufacturing technology, information technology, system engineering technology, etc., to integrate people involved in the entire production process of the enterprise. The machine (computer, production, and control equipment, etc.) organically integrates and optimizes the main human perception, reasoning, reasoning, decision-making, creation, and other aspects of work; the machine plays a role in the implementation and control of the production process. In recent decades, especially since 1990, chemical, steel, and machinery manufacturing companies in the United States, Western Europe, Japan, Korea, and China have adopted computer integrated manufacturing systems. According to investigations, many companies have significantly improved production efficiency, product quality, and equipment utilization after adopting computer integrated manufacturing systems, and have significantly reduced the amount of engineering design and the tasks of collaborative robots in the field of industrial production. Take the completion process as an example to illustrate. Collaborative robots guide and assist humans and work with humans without the need to use safety fences to isolate them. It can solve the accuracy that humans are more difficult to achieve or keep humans away from dangerous environments and work. Collaborative robots are collaborative, safe, fast learning, and adaptable. Strong, efficient, and correct. According to relevant foreign statistics, the size of the collaborative robot market reached 100 million US dollars in 2014, and it is currently growing at a rate of 50% per year. It is expected that by 2020, robots will form a new situation of “human-machine integration”.

Human production has experienced all manual labor, semi-automatic, fully automatic, and other production modes. In the future, it will enter the era of collaboration between humans and robots, and it will become a normal working mode. Today, robots may only be used in the upstream and downstream of the production line, such as loading and unloading. In the assembly process, manual assembly is used to assemble the conveyor belt system, and the lean production of the unit is pursued. In the future, in the production line, humans and robots will be mixed and matched. Collaborative robots will use multi-functional claws, multi-degree-of-freedom kinematics learning manipulators work with humans, and their interrelated motions will not disrupt workers’ work. In terms of human-machine work distribution, the future collaborative robots will leave simple, repetitive, labor-intensive labor to the robots, and complex intellectual labor to humans. The collaborative robots are breaking the shackles of traditional robots and are pursuing low prices and high efficiency. Today, safety and production substitution may be a storm of manufacturing machine substitutions.

Although at present, the human-machine collaboration system has been widely used in various aspects of production and life, and has changed or is changing the way human beings perceive and transform the world. However, there are relatively little researches on its own collaborative decision-making and effective task allocation. The development trend of human-machine collaborative systems is related to the understanding of artificial intelligence. The development of human-machine collaboration systems has already well-realized or is realizing weak artificial intelligence and has achieved fruitful results, such as various existing expert systems. In many human-machine collaborative systems, the computer has well completed the calculation and reasoning tasks assigned and specified by people, which has greatly liberated people’s hands and brains.

Strong artificial intelligence still faces many philosophical and practical problems, but artificial intelligence experts are still actively exploring and trying to break through various limitations. Through the development of strong artificial intelligence, the human-machine reasoning system will also continue to develop, which will better replace people’s work and further liberate people from heavy work. The human-machine coordination system will be realized in the near future.

① Friendly cooperation between man and machine. The automation process still needs people. As part of the solution, the existing technology cannot be fully automated. A complete human-machine collaboration system has simpler programming, which means that the factory does not require a lot of engineering resources.

②More effective and better. An automated factory with minimal safety risk and tight working space is easier to use the existing site for effective production.

③Higher quality, waste of cost. The collaborative work of humans and robots surpasses the work accuracy and speed of human accessibility, making products of higher quality and wasteful.

④Simplify programming technology. Leading programming technology is different from the traditional complex programming.