Vrije Universiteit Brussel


Nowadays, industrial robots are heavy machines that are separated for safety reasons from human workers by cages. They are programmed to work autonomously following a fixed program and to perform repetitive and heavy-duty tasks. Aside from their relative high cost, the automation of unstructured tasks (e.g. in an unknown environment) by industrial robots is either very difficult to implement or too expensive. Furthermore, the reprogramming of the robot requires highly trained specialists and is time consuming.
Recently, there is a strong trend in both the research community and in the industry toward the development of collaborative robots, the so called COBOTS. Ideally, these robots should be specifically designed to work together with people. Instead of being caged, they should work in a cooperative environment to assist with complex tasks that cannot be fully automated and to fulfil tasks that could be risky for people, which results in fewer accidents on the work-floor. Combining the dexterity, flexibility and problem-solving ability of humans, with the strength, endurance and precision of robots, the quality of the industrial production can be improved, as well the working conditions for humans. Humans will not do any longer the dull and dangerous jobs, and the amount of workplace injuries, e.g. musculoskeletal disorders that affects millions of workers worldwide each year and that costs businesses billions in revenue, will decrease.

Several projects on this topic are conducted within R&MM group: Up

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