Maybe it's just me...this is the first time when I heard such a concept as "co-robot."
At a time when a number of robots actively working in production lines at automobile plants, for example, are designed specifically for that purpose, the easy programming aspect of co-robots should open the door to a whole host of new applications that robots have gone before.
Co-robots is a concept popularized by Georgia Tech professor Henrik Christensen who pitched the idea to the Obama administration and Congress. His idea was that co-robots, working alongside American workers, could increase their productivity--making them more competitive with cheap foreign labor. As a result, the National Robotics Initiative was launched last year with $70 million in contracts for co-robot development, and is cooperating with the $500 million Advanced Manufacturing Partnership (AMP) to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S.
However, many of the ideas associated with co-robots were already here, such as their ability to use human tools. For example Robonaut was developed by GM working with NASA to develop co-robots that work alongside astronauts using their tools. The military is also popularizing the co-robot idea with its Engineering Squad Robot to work alongside soldiers and the DARPA Robot Challenge has a $2 million purse to develop co-robots for disaster recovery.
The Unbounded Robotics platform's main contribution is bringing down the price of co-robots to be affordable by small businesses--by implementing the co-robot paradigm using consumer-grade components which are now high-performance enough. Plus they are leveaging open-source software and smart realtime planning algorithms to make co-robots safe even around the elderly. I think we will see other robot maker emulate this approach in the future.
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