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The age of cobots

The Center for Industry 4.0 of UdeC’s Faculty of Engineering is looking to bring technology closer to regional and domestic companies. In this context, the work with collaborative robots, or cobots, is one of the keys to optimizing industrial processes.

By Lucas Tapia / lucastapia@udec.cl

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One of the challenges manufacturing companies face is performing repetitive tasks over long shifts, that need a high degree of accuracy to avoid problems during the manufacturing stages, or in the end product.

This is where the Fourth Industrial Revolution, driven by digital technology and data processing, becomes a path for companies to strengthen their production and competitiveness in an increasingly globalized market.

This new industry, so-called 4.0, is driven by Cloud Computing; the Internet of Things (IoT); Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning; Edge Computing; Cybersecurity, and Digital Twins. It also considers the incorporation of collaborative robots, or cobots, in workspaces.

The incorporation of cobots for collaborative work with people is a line that is similar to that of traditional robots, but with particular differences and features that make it a highly recommended strategy for mid-sized industries.

Pablo Aqueveque, Director of the Center for Industry 4.0 (C4i) of the Universidad de Concepción’s Faculty of Engineering, explains that this technology is “Friendly for the human workforce and is not replacing it. These are robots with high safety levels, which lets them complement any kind of industrial process”.

“Traditional robots are designed to work in a given space and with a given task, but cobots can move from one workplace to another, and perform a new task through new programming”, C4i’s director adds.

Cobots in industry

One of the Center for Industry 4.0’s great goals is accompanying companies that take the leap to this new industrial revolution, incorporating all kinds of technology into their work processes and tasks.

Along this line, C4i intends to show the benefits of this technology and encourage its inclusion in industries, driving the development of Industry 4.0 in the region and the country. For this, it has cobots that allow companies to run demonstrations about their operation and potential.

One of these collaborative robots is Baxter, an educational cobot for students to play with and work on basic tasks. “This cobot has proximity sensors and cameras that give it a 360° vision. Its programming language is simple and it works through action blocks, just as a flow diagram
would be structured”, Aqueveque explains.

Despite having image processing and the possibility of identifying people around them, this is just the first approach to the work this type of technology can do. However, C4i also has another collaborative robot model, which allows running tests and tasks at a higher level in time optimization and accuracy aspects.

For more information: c4i.udec.cl

Last modified: 1 de junio de 2023