In the past decade a number of new words based on robot have appeared, including cancelbot, knowbot, microbot, mobot and nanobot. This is the most recent, a blend of collaborative and robot, which has been invented by two researchers, J Edward Colgate and Michael Peshkin, in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Northwestern University in the USA. The stimulus for creating it has come largely from motor manufacturers, whose assembly line workers often have to place bulky or heavy components such as instrument panels or windscreens into very restricted situations where the risk of collisions, damage and injury are high. The control programs in cobots lay down limits beyond which they cannot be moved so that they and their loads can be directed precisely into position between invisible or “virtual” walls without bumping into anything. Unlike other engineering robots, cobots don’t have any motive power of their own and so reduce the risk of accidents still further.
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