A cobot or a collaborative robot would be best described as a robot capable of learning several tasks for assisting human beings. Contrary to popular belief, autonomous robots would be hard-coded to perform a set task repeatedly. They would remain stationary and work independently.
Presently, advancement in machine vision, mobile technology, touch technology, and cognitive computing has made it convenient for several small, low-powered robots to become aware of their surroundings. It would help them perform several kinds of tasks while staying close to human workers. The cobot would work closely with humans. It could learn the tasks quickly through reinforcement learning and demonstration.
It would not be wrong to suggest that a majority of industrial robots have still been autonomous. They have been large, expensive, and kept behind barriers for safety purposes. It would be pertinent to mention here that industrial robots have been playing a significant role in the automotive industry along with its suppliers. Their large size, high cost, complex programming requirements, and weight have limited their use in different vertical industries.
There also has been fear of robots dominating the place of work and replacing the human employees.
Cobots have been specifically designed to address the fear of people about robots dominating the workplace. Cobot would not augment the working capabilities of humans. It could not replace them but work along with them. In a majority of cases, the cobot would take the form of an arm. They would provide the worker with an additional set of hands.
Presently, cobots have been used in various vertical industries. It would be inclusive of supply chain management, manufacturing, and healthcare industries. They have been known for lower power consumption as compared to the large autonomous robots. The cobot would be mobile. It could also use collision detection for preventing injury to humans along with other cobots.