Collaborative Robots: Working Together for the Better
“Collaborative robots” might sound like a futuristic or complicated term, but their valuable purpose in society is actually quite easy to recognize. Collaboration is at the core of all successful team operations, and with today's advancements in technology, artificial intelligence (AI) and deep learning, adding robots to the mix only enhances the effort to work jointly in completing an intellectual endeavor.
Now, despite what you may have read, robots developing human attributes and becoming more intelligent doesn't mean they're going to take all of our jobs (or perhaps even the world someday). In fact, it means just the opposite: using collaborative robots – those that can work with humans – throughout various applications in society heightens our ability to take on complex tasks or solve problems. This integration is already in full swing; the collaborative robots market is booming, and according to a report by ResearchMoz, the global market is likely to be worth $95 billion from 2016-2024.
Robots have been around for decades, so what we're experiencing isn't that new. The difference has manifested in the type of work they're now able to take on. For the longest time, robots only did what they do well: drudge work. Basic, repetitive tasks, such as grabbing an object and dropping it in a specified location, are easily completed by simple robots. But now, technological developments have allowed robots to become smarter, empowering them to work alongside humans to not only tackle detailed jobs, but also continue to perform the drudge work that's best left up to an automated process.
A myriad of industries have already turned to collaborative robots to increase efficiencies and streamline processes. Warehouses are popular robot destinations, employing the machines to assist with duties such as lifting and stacking. Amazon has made headlines in this department recently, as the company has more than 100,000 robots in action around the world. But more importantly, they've also added 80,000 warehouse employees in the United States since adding the robots. The key: collaboration. The humans and robots work together, enabling the humans to perform more engaging jobs.
Another field where collaborative robots are prevalent is in healthcare. Sure, we need and trust the human touch of a doctor or surgeon, but robots can be used to augment these processes, ultimately increasing effectiveness. Robots are also perfect for the more mundane activities involved with healthcare, such as moving a medical equipment cart. And in catheterization labs, collaborative robots are not only safe and effective, but are also helping to reduce radiation exposure and orthopedic injuries to operators and staff.
The increasing use and popularity of collaborative robots has sparked a trend across endless industries, as we're even seeing them venture into agriculture, construction and more. There's one area, though, that collaborative robots have reached where they act as a force multiplier to contribute to the safety and protection of individuals and can even save lives: the security world.
Collaborative robots working in the security industry present a number of benefits to enterprise organizations and businesses. The advantages start with robots ensuring that companies are using their people as a premium; that is, allowing humans to do jobs that require interaction or intellect while using robots to automate tasks or perform dangerous jobs. Highly risky security jobs – such as in toxic waste facilities or clean energy plants – that were once performed by human guards can now be transferred to a security robot in an effort to significantly reduce liability in the event of an emergency. This doesn't mean that the replaced human security officers are losing their jobs, though; they're now free to work in a more demanding and meaningful capacity.
The patrol capabilities and responsiveness that security robots offer allow enterprise organizations to supplement human security staff by increasing their ability to detect intrusive and risky activity. Security robots can incorporate automatic obstacle avoidance sensors, two-way audio and on-board video surveillance to increase situational awareness and offer a comprehensive view of the threat landscape in any environment. The collaboration comes into play when a security robot alerts a Security Operations Center manned by a human security officer or official of an identified predefined parameter; remote human officers can respond to and act on this information immediately if necessary.
In locations where security personnel must stretch across a vast space, such as educational campuses or critical infrastructure sites, collaborative robots can be used to fill in the vacant spots and add an extra layer of protection. Additionally, these locations require strict and continuous perimeter security. Collaborative robots are designed to provide uninterrupted intrusion detection, further magnifying their worth.
As security technology and processes continue to progress and become more intricate, collaboration will be critical to streamline operations and seamlessly integrate systems. Collaborative robots will only grow in relevance in this industry, as well as in the other industries mentioned above and more. They may take the place of a human worker in particular instances, but they won't remove that worker altogether; collaborative robots pave the way for peak teamwork and robust achievements.