What's a Cobot Anyway?

The word "Cobot" stands for "Collaborative Robots" and was coined in 1996, and refers to a robot that "collaborates" with it's humans. Through the 1990's the most common robots performed repetitive tasks in controlled environments, such as assembly lines. Workers gave these robots a wide berth, and in general protective barriers were required to keep people out of the danger zone, where they could be injured by the robots. Processing power and sensor technology was just beginning to grow sophisticated enough to allow robots to adapt to unpredictable situations, such as parts that were not centered properly on a conveyor or parts that required unpredictable force to install. This allowed for robots that could use artificial intelligence (A.I.) to safely detect and interact with people.

Today many robots still perform repetitive tasks. Some perform unpredictable tasks autonomously, such as part sorting or vacuuming a room. For the most part, however, collaborative robotics is still in it's infancy. These cobots work side by side with humans, lifting heavy parts and arranging things so their humans can perform more complex tasks. This collaboration creates a team more effective than the robot or human alone. The mimic robots are the lone educational robot designed to interact with people. Our experiments start simple, and the first collaborative program uses the robots gripper sensor to determine if the user has given mimicArm a block or not.  From there we add the Great Big Button, followed by the inputBox to really take things to the next level.

Using mimicArm and her accessories the user can build a "cobot" with a unique personality that can play games, help out, or be a pest however they like.  mimicArm can reach for things using the IR Distance Sensor, react to noises using the inputBox, and talk back using the inputBox RGB LED. Other robots prepare you for the robots of today.  mimicArm prepares you for the robots of tomorrow.

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