Small collaborative robots – ‘cobots’ – are part of the ongoing trend towards human-robot interaction in industries such as manufacturing.

The concept is that instead of large-scale, dumb, single-task robots in safety cages on the factory floor, a new generation of smaller, smarter, more customisable robots may take their place alongside human workers – and not just in manufacturing, but also in the supply chain, healthcare, and other sectors.

For example, NASA is developing cobots such as the Robotnaut and Astrobee to work on the International Space Station in astronaut assistance roles.

One ambitious provider in the human-robot interaction sector is Shenzhen, China-based Elephant Robotics, which has launched a new collaborative robot, Catbot, which it describes as a ‘smart assistant robotic arm’.

The robot is designed to help smaller businesses gain access to smart robotics, offering them “efficiency and flexibility” in any kind of arduous or repetitive physical task, which could extend from manufacturing and short-run customisation tasks to other uses, such as in education, photography, or serving customers in cafes and restaurants.

Unlike many such platforms, Catbot can be controlled by voice command, while the CatStore offers an app store-style approach with 20 downloadable preset skills, along with the potential to develop new business-specific programmes and share them with other users.

The robot is expected to launch in August this year.

  • British company Automata is among many others working in this space, with its lightweight, programmable Eva robotic arm, launched in March 2019.

Be part of a discussion and connect with like-minded leaders in your sector at our forthcoming trade event – The Sensor Show – next year.