Innovation explained: Cobots

Cobots are a topic which is occupying more and more companies from industry and manufacturing. The term “Cobots” stands for collaborative robots. They are designed for direct interaction between humans and machines. In contrast to the situation up to now, the Cobots are in close proximity to humans and not, as before, separated from them by a fence or similar protective measures. The Cobots are to cooperate and work together with humans.

The construction of the collaborative robots is designed for interaction with humans. The lightweight construction materials used, rounded and soft edges, and the limitation of speed and force are completely designed for safe interaction between man and machine.


JUNG focuses on human-robot collaboration in assembly (Source: Universal Robots)


Types of Cobots

In general one can distinguish four types of collaborative cooperation between man and machine:

  • Coexistence: In coexistence, humans and robots work side by side. However, they do not have a common workspace, but are still separate in their tasks.
  • Sequential cooperation: In contrast to coexistence, man and machine work in one workspace here. However, they are not simultaneously working on one part or machine and here they only complement each other.
  • Cooperation: This is where real cooperation between robot and human worker takes place. Both work on a part or machine at the same time.
  • Reactive cooperation: If both parties cooperate, it can quickly happen that you get in each other’s way. Reactive co-operation is designed to counteract this. The robot responds in real time to human motion and adapts to it.


Currently it is still the case that the cobots and humans share a space, but often still complete the tasks independently of each other or in sequential collaboration. Real cooperation is still rare, but is currently increasing more and more.

This is the reason why the new job description of the Man-Machine Teaming Manager is currently being created. This manager has to balance and combine the strengths of the human being, such as judgement or cognition, with the advantages of the respective machine in order to create a working team that is as productive as possible. Even though the job description is still in its infancy, such services will become increasingly important in the future.


Cobots are there to support and protect humans. Companies must start today to prepare their production facilities and factories for the future. Automated, collaborative and secure.


Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker
Alexander Pinker is an innovation profiler, future strategist and media expert who helps companies understand the opportunities behind technologies such as artificial intelligence for the next five to ten years. He is the founder of the consulting firm "Alexander Pinker - Innovation Profiling", the innovation marketing agency "innovate! communication" and the news platform "Medialist Innovation". He is also the author of three books and a lecturer at the Technical University of Würzburg-Schweinfurt.

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