Cobots – or collaborative robots – are robots designed to work alongside humans. Very often, you’ll find cobots being put to work in warehouses and factories to improve productivity levels and efficiencies. Machine tool companies such as Mills CNC supply cobots to the aerospace and defence sectors, as well as to power generation, motorsport and medical component manufacturers, to name but a few.
However, cobots can also be found in the strangest of places. There are a few industries where theINE
y are really making strides that may surprise you…
The horticulture industry
Automation and horticulture are traditionally not two things you might associate with each other. Introducing, the GROWBOT. Aside from having a very clever name, the GROWBOT is a cobot arm that helps greenhouse workers pick plants. It uses machine learning to automate the handling of seedlings, herbs, and other plants.
Automation certainly faces its challenges in this industry. Picking plants is delicate work and some of the plants picked won’t be fit for purpose. They may need to meet certain requirements in order to make the cut, however with the right human intervention the GROWBOT has successfully claimed its place in the horticulture industry.
The farming industry
Again, another industry you might not associate with being particularly technology-forward – but you’d be wrong. The farming industry, whilst still adopting traditional techniques, is very ahead of where it used to be. Technology is being used in many aspects of the day-to-day running of farms of all kinds, and arguably most interesting is the use of drones to herd cattle and sheep.
Many farmers were finding that the older, more stubborn cows and sheep had become so used to being herded by sheepdogs that they would stand their ground and simply ignore them. To combat this, special drones were introduced that play recorded barking sounds to imitate the sheepdogs. Farmers can manoeuvre these drones and direct them from their farmhouse or office, without the need to be out on foot, reducing the time spent on the task. The drones have proven to be successful, with livestock moving faster and with less stress than traditional herding methods. Farmers can also use these drones to monitor their land from a distance, checking in on the animals and water and feed levels without causing any disturbance.
The food industry
You can now also find cobots in bars and restaurants. In some destinations, you can watch a cobot make your cocktail in front of you or create you a nice cappuccino. It’s not just drinks that cobots are trying their hand at, however. Miso Robotics’ Flippy is a cobot arm that is designed to flip burgers in commercial kitchens.
Flippy can work on a grill or a fryer and complies with OSHA and food-safety standards. It can run for up to a whopping 100,000 hours continuously saving kitchen workers a lot of time and work. Major fast-food and fast-casual chains, particularly in America, are evaluating the use of such cobots in order to stay competitive. These burger-flipping cobots will prove to be particularly valuable during COVID restrictions where there may be a shortage of workers and sanitisation is of the utmost importance.
The hotel industry
Cobots are even finding their place in more face-to-face industries, such as in the hotel and hospitality sector. Global hotel chain Hilton is leading the way with their cobot concierge ‘Connie’. Connie features in a number of Hilton hotels around the world and her job is to look after guests during their stay by answering their questions about the hotel amenities, local tourist attractions, and dining recommendations.
Not only this, but Connie learns from each and every interaction with a guest, improving her answers, and becoming ever more intelligent. Her human colleagues analyse her data to make sure she’s always working to her optimum but she is certainly proving to be a success so far.