When is a robot a cobot? Moving beyond manufacturing and arm-based cobot manipulators

DS 122: Proceedings of the Design Society: 24th International Conference on Engineering Design (ICED23)

Year: 2023
Editor: Kevin Otto, Boris Eisenbart, Claudia Eckert, Benoit Eynard, Dieter Krause, Josef Oehmen, Nad
Author: Guertler, Matthias (1); Tomidei, Laura (1); Sick, Nathalie (1); Carmichael, Marc (2); Paul, Gavin (2); Wambsganss, Annika (1); Hernandez Moreno, Victor (1); Hussain, Sazzad (3)
Series: ICED
Institution: 1: University of Technology Sydney: Centre for Advanced Manufacturing; 2: University of Technology Sydney: Robotics Institute; 3: Centre for Work Health and Safety, NSW Department of Customer Service
Section: Design Methods
Page(s): 3889-3898
DOI number: https://doi.org/10.1017/pds.2023.390


Collaborative robots ("cobots") have attracted growing attention in academia and industry over the last years. Due to in-built safety features and easy programming, they allow for close human-cobot collaboration and support e.g. flexible manufacturing. However, the lack of a common understanding what a cobot is along with its traditional focus on arm-based cobots complicates further research and industry adoption. Thus, this paper analyses the variety of definitions in literature incl. standards and practice examples to derive a consistent and holistic definition and taxonomy of what a collaborative robot is. Aside from contributing a structured overview of various forms of human-robot collaboration, this builds an important foundation for future research as it systematically differentiates different cobot types. Companies and other organisations will benefit by a better understanding of what type of cobot they need and how to ensure safe collaboration.

Keywords: Technology, Design engineering, Industry 4.0, Collaborative Robotic

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