Factory robots are usually seen as large, rigid pieces of steel that are dangerous unable to work interchangeably with humans. The newer factory robots are actually do just that – they are teaming up with humans to have even more effectiveness in the workplace.
Unlike their swift moving, forceful predecessors, newer factory robots are equipped with features that allow humans to work in close proximity. A recent study, performed by Dr. Julie A. Shah of MIT, had human and robot teams placing screws and drilling on an assembly line.
During this study, the robots and humans cross-trained, switching jobs halfway through the task. The study found that both the robots and the humans better learned their tasks when they performed cross training as a team.
Along with learning their own jobs, factory robots in this study learned to anticipate their human partner’s moves too. The humans on the teams gained extra skills as well – their teamwork skills improved overall.
These newer factory robots are equipped with vision-guidance and touch and motion sensors. All of these features combined work together to safeguard any humans working in close proximity to the operating robot.
While these uncaged, free robots are gentler than older models, they can still be dangerous if human workers do not follow safety practices. It is important that workers do not get too comfortable and lax when working hand in hand with a factory robot partner.
RobotWorx, a certified integrator of several factory robot models from FANUC, KUKA, ABB, Universal Robots, and Motoman, has many different robots suited for the material handling practices mentioned above. All of our robots can also be outfitted with sensors and cameras to help the robots to more safely work in line with humans.