Robots that work alongside humans are hitting factory floors in earnest. Falling costs and expanding capabilities are bringing robotic coworkers to more plants. Unlike traditional industrial robots, these so-called collaborative robots don’t need large safety cages to protect workers. Many of the robots are small, allowing them to fit into tight spaces. And their arms are getting more rugged so that they can be used in harsh environments.
Robot subscription services are spurring adoption. For a monthly fee, companies can rent robots instead of ponying up well north of $100,000 to purchase and install an industrial robot. In these “robots-as-a-service” agreements, customers get a multipurpose robot that can be up and running in days, compared to weeks for traditional systems. The subscription includes training, installation and regular software updates.
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