Cobots are robots intended for direct human/robotic interaction within a shared space, or where humans and robots are in close proximity. According to Wikipedia, cobots were invented in 1996 and have been successfully deployed to support human activities, in contrast to robots that typically work separately from humans. Their 1997 U.S. patent entitled “Cobots” describes an “apparatus and method for direct physical interaction between a person and a general purpose manipulator controlled by a computer.”
Cobots are enjoying an increasing interest as businesses seek to operate in a Covid economy. Cobots can be effectively utilized as businesses adapt to a world of social distancing, touchless transactions, automation and decentralization.
Stanley Black & Decker is using cobots to stack boxes on assembly lines and move same for loading, eliminating fork lifts. Also, Stanley’s new plant in Fort Mills, South Carolina, has cobots holding drills.
Investors might want to consider that markets are likely to reward managements that are most able to adapt to the challenges presented by the rapidly evolving requirements of the Covid economy. Properly deployed, cobots can improve productivity and, of course, they don’t get sick or spread the virus. On the other hand, cobots and robots are not consumers, which has implications for a consumer based economy.
All comments and suggestions are welcome.
Walter J. Kirchberger, CFA