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Editorial - assistive robots for industrial production - state of the art, challenges and potential

: Schraft, R.D.; Hägele, M.; Breckweg, A.

International Federation of Robotics, Statistical Department; Robotics and Automation Association; Verband Deutscher Maschinen- und Anlagenbau e.V. -VDMA-, Frankfurt/Main; Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionstechnik und Automatisierung -IPA-, Stuttgart:
World Robotics 2006 : Statistics, Market Analysis, Forecasts, Case Studies and Profitability of Robot Investment
Frankfurt/Main, 2006
Book Article
Fraunhofer IPA ()
Assistenzroboter; robot assistant; Editorial; Fertigung; Industrieroboter

In industrial automation, the basic principle of task sharing between human and machine has changed little since the introduction of robots in industrial production. Humans carry out difficult handling and assembly tasks with a low volume, a large degree of variation and other tasks which require complex sensory and cognitive capabilities. In contrast robots are employed in fenced areas for high-volume operation, with restricted access or monitored by sensors.
In the past and at present, productivity has been increased by higher sensory, mechanical and communicational performance at both process and shop-floor level. Closer cooperation between humans and robots will be an important factor in future productivity gains.
The objective of such cooperation between human and robot should be the most effective use of the individual strengths of each. Through experience and education, humans are able to apprehend highly diverse tasks and to react quickly to unexpected situations - the chief capabilities of robots lie in the fast and precise execution of simple, repetitive tasks (which may involve a heavy payload), with hazardous environments seldom imposing restrictions. Tighter cooperation between humans and robots is being made possible by advances in the areas of safety, sensor and information technology and human-machine interaction.
However, actual application of such new technology is constrained by a lack of further information on this trend towards greater cooperation. Knowledge of possible applications and the needs of industry are limited, and thus the major challenges for the further development of assistive robots are largely unknown.
Accordingly, the aim of a survey by the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Engineering and Automation (IPA) in Stuttgart was to determine areas of application and the benefits of these applications to specify restraints, define required technology and components, and to predict future market trends.