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How Cobots Promote Local Business

Kayla Matthews
by Kayla Matthews on Aug 15, 2017 7:00:00 AM

It’s a common misconception that as autonomy, AI and robotic systems become more commonplace, people will lose their jobs. Yes, some jobs may go away, but that’s not the intention of organizations — to take work away from everyone. The primary goal is to boost efficiency and make everyone’s lives easier.

Sound like a load of hogwash? It’s not, and the proof is in something called a cobot, or collaborative robot. Cobots, as they are called, work collaboratively with humans to improve a variety of processes.

Amazon, for instance, has more than 45,000 robots collectively in its warehouses that work alongside their human counterparts. What do these robots do? Many things, but most importantly, they improve the packaging and shipping experience for Amazon employees and customers alike.

In production and manufacturing, cobots are being used to modernize production lines by making them safer, more efficient and more accurate.

However, the real wonder is how this new form of technology is influencing local business. Here’s how cobots are making a difference in a variety of ways.

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Better and Safer Equipment

Manufacturing and development warehouses are necessary when you’re creating a huge quantity of products or goods. It just can’t be helped. The machinery, hardware and supplies required take up a lot of space. Sometimes, this means moving jobs and work away from the local area to a remote location where there’s enough room, aid and demand.

Thanks to cobots, that’s no longer necessary. Work can be done in-house and in smaller spaces, thanks to collaborative efforts from humans and machines. Plus, the equipment has the potential to be much safer for everyone.

Universal Robots, a company that specializes in the creation of cobots, has seen a significant rise in revenue and orders in recent years. It attributes this to better, safer machines that appeal to a wide variety of industries.

Faster Local Deliveries

Currently, companies are toying with the idea of using self-driving robots, vehicles and even drones to deliver goods locally. This has the potential to boost local business in many ways, namely by bringing more jobs into a smaller community. Just because the robots are doing most of the work doesn’t mean humans aren’t necessary.

It’s no secret why this technology would be useful for retailers, especially giants like Amazon. It can also be useful to local business, entrepreneurs and restaurants. Imagine being able to deliver foods to nearby homes that you never could before, or selling homemade products and items — like 3-D-printed devices — to your local community, with the help of shipping robots?

It's a crazy prospect for sure, but one that’s already in the works.

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Everyone Can Benefit

With the right software, tools and components, robots can be programmed to do just about anything — and that means they can benefit everyone. You can effectively implement cobots in any industry, from food service to retail.

What’s more, as other new technologies continue to develop, that tech can be applies to cobots, too. For example, wearable technology has already inadvertently enabled the development of a new field in robotics called micro robotics. The small sensors and actuators used in micro robotics were actually created for things like smartwatches but ended up be applicable to other industries as well.

When Will Robots and Cobots Be Mainstream?

It’s impossible to say when or how long it will actually be until you start seeing modern robotics and automated systems in local businesses near you. That depends on the technology, how much innovation happens and whether or not the businesses themselves adopt the platform.

Delivery drones, for instance, would need to be perfected for the purpose of delivering packages, food or goods. Then, the technology would need to advance to a point where the components and drones are cheaper and more affordable. Finally, local businesses would need to purchase, implement and rely on drones for their regular processes.

There are no guarantees any of this will happen, let alone when. Only time will tell. When it does, we’ll be entering a brave and exciting new world of commerce.

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Kayla Matthews
Written by Kayla Matthews
Kayla Matthews is an AI and future tech writer and regular contributor to VentureBeat, Motherboard and MakeUseOf. You can read more posts from Kayla by visiting her blog: productivitybytes.com
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