Collaborative robots are a relatively new invention in the robotics industry, but there are already several types. Their immediate success in a variety of industries has fueled rapid product innovation, resulting in four major types of collaborative robots.
The various types of collaborative robots are distinguished by their safety and programming features, as well as the manner in which they avoid potentially dangerous interactions with human workers. Each type of collaborative robot employs distinct methods and technologies to ensure a safe operating environment; this distinction determines which environments they are best suited for.
4 Major Types of Collaborative Robots
According to ISO 10218 part 1 and part 2, the four types of collaborative robots are defined as safety monitored stop, speed and separation, power and force limiting, and hand guiding.
Safety Monitored Stop: Safety monitored stop collaborative robots are designed for applications that require little interaction between the robot and human workers. Typically, these collaborative robots use an industrial robot outfitted with a series of sensors that shut down the robot when a human enters the work envelope.
Speed and Separation: Because they use an industrial robot, these collaborative robots are similar to safety monitored stop collaborative robots. Speed and separation collaborative robots, on the other hand, use more advanced vision systems to slow operations when a human worker approaches and to stop operations entirely when a worker is too close to the robot.
Power and Force Limiting: these types of collaborative robots are built with rounded corners and a series of intelligent collision sensors to quickly detect contact with a human worker and stop operation. These collaborative robots, which use collaborative robot arms, also feature force limitations to ensure any collisions are unlikely to result in injury.
Hand Guiding: these collaborative robots are equipped with a hand-guided device by which an operator directly controls the motion of the robot during automatic mode. While in automatic mode, the robot performing hand-guiding collaboration responds only to the operator’s direct control input. This allows the robot, for example, to support the weight of a heavy workpiece while the operator manipulates it into position, thereby reducing the operator’s risk of repetitive-stress injury. Similar capabilities can be used to “teach” or program a robot, but properly speaking, hand guiding as a collaborative operation occurs while the robot is in automatic mode, during normal production, whereas programming is not done in automatic mode nor used during production.
In a Nutshell
Every type of robot intended for some degree of human interaction during operation is included in the four major types of collaborative robots defined above. Although not all are designed for constant collaboration, they all include a number of safety features to help prevent serious injury.
Collaborative robots were a significant advancement in the robotics industry, as they were the first automation technology to allow safe operation directly alongside human workers. The four types of collaborative robots emerged relatively quickly, and more are likely to emerge as the industry matures.
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