Ann de Beer, the cobot and Frederik Langenhoven share a moment after the presentation.
First of all, what is a robot? Dictionary definitions vary, but the gist is that it is a machine which takes the place of a human being (so those things at street corners are actually robots!). In a highly entertaining technology evening presentation, Frederik Langenhoven of Cobots defined it as: “a machine capable of carrying out a complex series of actions automatically”.
So what is a cobot?
Collaborative robots serve as a tool for operators; not devices that replace human workers. Although robots can do most things that used to be the preserve of people, there are applications where the human touch is still required, but robots are useful to do the heavy lifting. However, what if a human hand (or head) gets in the way of this powerful machine? Fortunately, there are standards that cobots must adhere to where there is unobstructed human-robot collaboration: EN ISO 13849-1 and EN ISO 10218-1. To demonstrate how this is done, throughout the evening a drinks trolley was circulating, conveniently pausing whenever someone got in the way.
Also present, was another device looking more like what most of us probably imagine a robot to be: something with arms that move and rotate. Frederik demonstrated how this, too, can stop when a hand, for instance, is detected. He also showed how this cobot can be trained – very simply, by manually moving its actuator, hitting a key, and moving it to its next location, etc.
The 2019 committee (left to right): Andre Eybers, Eric Carter, Dean Floyd, Cheryl Hird, Laura van der Merwe and Ann De Beer.
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