The Rise of Collaborative Industrial Robots in Advanced Manufacturing

Collaborative Industrial Robots (Cobots) automation is set to be at the center stage of the human-robot interaction in the 2020s, and beyond.

Mechanical creatures and concepts similar to robots can be found in history from about 400 BCE. The first real industrial robot was used in 1937; it was a crane-like device with five movement axes, a grab hand that could turn around its own axis and was powered by one electric motor.

The first patented robot was produced by the American company Unimation in 1956. Back then, robots were also called programmable transfer machines since their only task was to move objects from one point to another. 

In Europe, ABB Robotics, a Swiss-Swedish leading supplier of industrial robots and robot software, and Kuka Robotics, a German manufacturer of industrial robots and solutions for factory automation, introduced industrial robots on the market in 1973.

It was in 1996 when the idea of collaborative robots came into play by the hand of J. Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin, who invented the first collaborative robot (cobot), and called it “a device and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a computer-controlled manipulator.”

Fast forward into the present century, and we find that the usage and development of Collaborative Industrial Robots (Cobots) are accelerating faster than ever. Many believe human and machine collaboration plays a paramount role in the development of Industry 4.0 and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT).

Collaborative Industrial Robots are of great help in assisting humans in the manufacturing industry. Cobots are equipped with advanced sensors for fine-tuned work. They are quick to learn from the people who use them, becoming great coworkers and collaborators. Kuka Robotics, who also launched one of the first industrial robots on the market, launched its first Cobot in 2004, called the LBR3. 

LBR3 was followed by the UR5 in 2008, the first Cobot released by Universal Robots, one of the world’s largest robot suppliers. In 2012, the UR10 was launched, followed by the UR3 in 2015, a Cobot designed specifically for a tabletop.


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