We’re big supporters of the efficiencies of automation, but the human side of me likes to see a future for people in the workplace. In a world of nearly 8bn people we don’t need so many idle hands. Cue the cobots, for augmented collaboration that might make an appearance in your workplace sooner than you think.
Current trends in automation are accelerating the adoption of robotic technologies, down to even the most mundane roles in the workplace (for many that might be something to be pleased about). The global robotics sector is rapidly shifting its focus toward more accessible robots-as-a-service (RaaS) solutions which can solve the ‘last mile of automation’ problem for medium and even smaller enterprises. Because robots have been unable to usurp humans from that last mile (also something we humans might be pleased about), the focus has now turned to human-robot cooperation.
Unlike the super-human robots of a typical feature film, displacing us from our our jobs (and possibly more than that, if we let Hollywood tell the story) cobots are designed to operate in close proximity to humans, in a direct symbiotic partnership to perform tasks. They are intentionally built to physically interact with humans within a shared workspace. They are designed to augment and enhance human capabilities with increased strength, precision, and data capabilities so that together we can can do more. In practical terms that allows us humans not only to keep our jobs, but to do them better and with reduced physical and mental stress wherever possible.
Wherever you stand on the subject, the reality is that robots, and cobots, will be with us for the long term and will be the increasingly the beneficiary of investment capital – including ours, as we appraise candidates for investment through the remainder of the year.