From robots to ‘co-bots’

The speed with which robots and software are becoming more intelligent and more capable threatens to eliminate humans’ jobs, ranging from manufacturing to accounting to journalism and the law. But in a Ford Motor Co. plant in Cologne, Germany, robots and people have found a way to co-exist.

The plant uses specially designed collaborative robots, or “co-bots,” to do tasks that require more than one worker, such as lifting heavy objects. The robots also perform repetitive tasks that require pinpoint accuracy but that can tire humans after hours of repetition – leading to less accuracy as well as stress-related injury.

Some robots also can use the plant’s vending machines and fist-bump a human co-worker for a job well done.

Ford says it sees no reason why this kind of partnership can’t expand to all its factories.

 

TRENDPOST: The “co-bot” idea is under consideration at several manufacturing companies as a way to move more gently into a future in which robots outperform, and eventually replace, humans on the job.

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