For a while, it looked like Rethink Robotics would shake up the world with its collaborative robots: rather than having to write code, workers could teach bots to perform tasks by guiding them through the process. However, the market doesn't appear to have shared its vision. Rethink has suddenly shut down after a potential buyer backed out of a deal. Sales of Baxter and Sawyer robots weren't meeting expectations, Rethink chief Scott Eckert said, leaving the company low on cash. It really needed this acquisition to go through, in other words.
A collaborative robot, also known as a cobot, is a robot that is capable of learning multiple tasks so it can assist human beings. In contrast, autonomous robots are hard-coded to repeatedly perform one task, work independently and remain stationary. Today, advances in mobile technology, machine vision, cognitive computing and touch technology (including collision avoidance) are making it possible for small, lower-power robots to be aware of their surroundings and perform multiple types of tasks safely in close proximity to human workers. A cobot, when working side by side a human, can quickly learn tasks through demonstration and reinforcement learning. As of this writing, the majority of industrial robots are still autonomous.
Doosan cobots have a track record in several markets worldwide including Germany, France and China, with capabilities such as a working radius of 900 to 1,700 millimetres and a load capacity of 6 to 15 kilograms. The company gave a demonstration of six cobots collaborating with two human workers to execute fine motor activities on an auto assembly line. The six cobots conducted nine different applications such as inspection, assembly, placement of parts and more, underlining the fact that cobots can be used in almost any production process. During Automate 2019, RG Industries signed a dealership agreement with Doosan Robotics to be their first distributor in the North American market. Through the partnership, Doosan plans to launch its cobots in nine U.S. states including Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, West Virginia, Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Delaware.