Automate 2023

Cognitive Robots and Human-Machine Collaboration

Cognitive Robots and Human-Machine Collaboration

David Reger - CEO and Founder, Neura Robotics GmbH

Robotic automation has led to a level of efficiency, precision, and scale in manufacturing that would have been impossible to achieve with conventional human labor. Such machines are now commonplace in various industries, providing productivity gains while relieving human workers of mundane and dangerous tasks. Most of these robots are used in production lines and are programmed to repeat a specific task at a time, such as moving objects between predefined locations or assembling basic components. Although these robots now reliably outperform humans in terms of speed and accuracy, they're unaware of their surroundings and must be isolated in safety cages or behind protective fences. Today's fast-paced industrial landscape has led to the development of collaborative robots (cobots) that can work with humans in shared environments. However, today's cobots lack human-like awareness and are unable to operate as efficiently and safely as would be required for a universal solution. For this reason, cobots throughout the industry typically require a fence or barrier to protect workers and to run at full speed, which defeats the original idea of collaboration. To enable true human-machine collaboration, cobots need senses to perceive their environment and cognitive intelligence to safely interact with humans in different environments. 

So-called cognitive robots create truly collaborative environments where humans and machines can work together to achieve a common goal. And with rapid improvements in their abilities to learn, think, and interact, they are poised to reshape productivity and safety in commercial and social environments all over the world. These cognitive capabilities for robots will be the critical components of comprehensive systems that, in combination with other technologies, will provide holistic solutions for caring for the disabled and elderly, assisting in hospitals and medical care, and providing mobility for everyone. With integrated, ever-improving sensors and AI systems, cognitive robots could even develop the social intelligence needed to hold longer conversations, play games, and keep company with people who need help. Ultimately, to bring cognitive robots to all industries and all areas of life, it's not only the robot manufacturers themselves who must develop and bring intelligent robots to market. Indeed, it's critical to build a community of leading industry partners from all possible segments to enable collaboration and co-creation to create intelligent automation solutions that make a difference in businesses and personal lives. In a nutshell, the cognitive capabilities of robots don't only help industrial companies to succeed but also enable everyone to spend more time doing what they love to do.

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