Collaborative robot arm: 3 best cobot arms on the market [2024]

January 24, 2024
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The Collaborative robot arm 101 course

A Collaborative robot arm, or Cobot arm, is a robot designed to safely work side by side with humans.

You’re probably well-acquainted with the big, lumbering Industrial robots, working in shuttered spaces away from human workers. Not Cobots, though! 

Cobots can operate in shared workspaces. They are designed with safety features like force-limited joints, rounded edges, and sensors to detect humans and stop cold before any dangerous contact takes place. 

Cobot arms are versatile and can handle a huge variety of tasks, especially the repetitive kind that still require high attention to detail.

They excel at jobs like: 

  • Pick and Place
  • Assembly
  • Machine Tending
  • Packaging
  • Welding
  • CNC machine tending
  • Painting 
  • Quality Control

What’s more, they are easy to program and reprogram to suit changing needs. Many Cobots can be "taught" by simply moving their arms through the desired motion path. Others don’t even require you to have coding experience. 

What’s the idea, then, behind the Collaborative robot arm? To slowly but surely outsource repetitive and physically demanding tasks to robots. This frees up human workers to do more engaging, brain-centric, creative jobs. 

In short, they’re an easy way to start automating your processes without having to completely overhaul your operation.

Keep these in mind when buying your first Cobot

Not so fast! Before you go online with your credit card at the ready, you should understand a few essential factors that will make choosing the right Collaborative robot arm all the much easier. 

Here they are:  

Is it safe? 

The number one thing with Cobots is safety. 

If safety features are not in place, then chances are your would-be Cobot is missing the “Co” part. 

Therefore, make sure to look for Cobots with multiple redundancies, force-limited joints, rounded edges, and emergency stop buttons. 

The most advanced Cobots even have sensors to detect human contact and will immediately stop all operations if someone accidentally comes into their work area.

Safety certifications like ISO 10218 are a good indicator the Cobot meets high safety standards.

“Do you even lift?”  

First, you need to know how much weight the Cobot needs to lift and its required range of motion. 

Most Cobot payloads typically range from 3 kg up to 35 kg

Conversely, reach, the area the Cobot can access, is also important to understand based on your specific application.

How hard is it to tell it what to do?

Cobots are meant to be easy to program, even for non-engineers. Some, though, will still require you to have a professional, or even a dedicated team, on hand.

But, if you’re just getting into Cobots, it’s best to look for a simple, intuitive interface with features like drag-and-drop programming, and simulation environments so you can test the program without the actual Cobot. 

Some modern Cobots don’t even require coding expertise, or what’s known as a no-code framework. 

How much will it set you back financially?

Cobot prices have dropped significantly in recent years, ranging from as low as $2,000 to $100,000 or more depending on the model and options. 

But, it’s not just about the initial cost: programming time, potential increased production, maintenance (although this is typically not as much as you think), and reduced injury rates can help you determine the actual impact on your bottom line. 

One important factor: Cobots typically have a very fast ROI of 1-3 years. 

Our roundup of the 3 best Collaborative robot arms

If you’re just getting into the world of Cobots, you’ve likely seen at least 100 options claiming to be the best.

But we’re here to help you sort the wheat from the chaff:

RO1 by Standard Bots

Ideal for any sort of Collaborative task, including CNC machine tending, Pick and Place, and quality control, Standard Bots’ RO1 comes out on top as the #1 Collaborative robot arm. 

Priced competitively, with lease rates beginning as low as $5 per hour, it doesn't skimp on performance, with a best-in-class payload capacity of 18 kg, speed, and precision, with an unmatched repeatability of +/-0.025 mm.

Additionally, RO1 features a massively user-friendly no-code UI that doesn't require an engineering degree. This enables operators to easily set up new task sequences – an especially beneficial feature for workshops dealing with a wide variety of tasks!


If your game is meticulous handling and perfect workspace integration, the FANUC CRX-10iA is an excellent choice. 

This compact Collaborative robot arm has a 10 kg payload capacity, making it a near-perfect starter Cobot. It excels at tasks like delicate material handling, and electronics work, with an impressive repeatability of ±0.05 mm consistent, accurate movements, 

Another feature worth noting is its intuitive R-30iB Teach Pendant to simplify programming even for non-robotics experts.

(Note, though, that it will set you back around $50,000)


If seamless human-robot collaboration for extremely detail–oriented tasks is your game, the ABB YuMi is our third-best Collaborative robot arm choice. 

This sleek Cobot has a dual-arm design with a smaller payload capacity of 0.5 kg. Why so little, though? Because it’s ideal for tasks like precision assembly, small parts handling, and delicate machine tending. 

Its impressive repeatability of ±0.03 mm is nothing to scoff at, with very accurate, pixel-perfect movements, 

Meanwhile, the FlexPendant teach interface simplifies programming, so it’s another great entry-level Cobot. 

And beyond its precision, Yumi has excellent built-in safety features, including integrated sensors and soft padding, allowing for safe side-by-side interaction with humans. 

Yumi Cobots (there are several varieties) typically range between $40,000 to $80,000.

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Cobots are safe, but not foolproof

Even though Cobots are built for collaboration, they’re still not 100% foolproof. 

Here are some things you need to keep in mind before purchasing a Collaborative robot arm. 

Do a risk assessment

Consider these factors:

  • The speed and force at which the Cobot will operate
  • The tools or end-effectors it will manipulate
  • The workspace layout and potential pinch points
  • Training required for employees working with the Cobot

Based on your assessment, you may still need appropriate safeguards in place.  

For example, if the Cobot is moving a sharp tool at high speeds, you may want to install protective barriers. 

Don’t take the “safety” part as gospel. You still need to exercise care around Cobots. 

Train your employees

Anyone working with or around a Cobot should receive proper training on how to safely operate and interact with the robot. 

This training usually involves learning how to start, stop, and restart the robot, as well as how to handle emergency stops, should they ever occur. 

Employees should understand the Cobot's range of motion and any potential hazards (no, putting their heads near the Collaborative robot arm while it works will not do).

Consistent refresher training and regular re-certification can be life-saving. 

You work here, I work there

You'll want to determine work zones for your Cobot to keep employees safe.

To do that, establish clearly delimited areas where the Cobot operates and zones where humans can work.

Be sure anyone and everyone knows about these zones – especially those working near the robot. While many Cobots feature built-in safety mechanisms like cameras, sensors, or scanners to detect humans entering their work area, you shouldn’t trust these safeguards blindly.

Collaborative robot arm FAQs

Still have a few questions about Collaborative robot arms? We know they can be an expensive purchase, so no problems there. 

Here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers:

So, what exactly is a Collaborative robot arm?

A Collaborative robot arm, or "Cobot", is a robot designed to safely work alongside and cooperate with human workers.

Cobots are lightweight, and flexible, and have advanced sensors and software that allow them to operate without safety barriers

Are Cobots easy to program?

Yes, many Cobots are designed to be very easy to program. 

While some require programming knowledge, others use teaching pendant systems where you can manually run them through a motion, or even revolutionary no-code frameworks that require zero coding experience.

How much does a Cobot cost?

Cobot prices can range from $2,000 up to $100,000 or more, depending on the model and features. Smaller tabletop Cobots are on the lower end of the price spectrum. 

Conversely, larger Cobots with higher payload capacities and more advanced features are usually much more prohibitive. 

Manufacturers like Standard Bots offer financing and leasing options as low as $5/hr to make Cobots more affordable.

Are Cobots safe to work with?

Yes, when used properly. Cobots move at slower speeds with rounded edges, force-limited joints and advanced sensors to detect collisions and stop operating upon contact. 

However, risk assessments are still necessary for any automated equipment. Proper guarding and emergency stops should be installed if the application requires it.

What are the main Cobot benefits? 

The main benefits of Cobots include:

  • Improved safety - Cobots are designed for safe side-by-side operation with humans
  • Productivity boost - Cobots can take over repetitive, mind-numbing tasks, freeing up humans for bigger and better jobs. 
  • Agility - Cobots are easily reprogrammable to perform different tasks.
  • Low-cost - Cobots are typically more affordable than traditional Industrial robots (that doesn’t mean they’re cheap)
  • Ease of use - Many Cobots don’t need advanced programming skills and are designed to be intuitive to operate.

Summing up

Now you know everything you need to know to pick the perfect Collaborative robot arm. 

If you’re looking to scale up, now’s the time, with these high-end Cobots at very competitive price ranges making them more affordable and accessible than ever before

But before you buy, do your research, determine your priorities, set a budget, and you'll find a Cobot that fits the bill. We promise that once you have it up and running, you'll wonder how you ever lived without it! 

Next steps

Interested in stepping into the Collaborative robot arm world? RO1 by Standard Bots is the #1 for small-scale startups and established industrial giants

  • Cost-effective: RO1 is the leading robotic arm in its class, delivering even more value at half the price of the competition. 
  • Fast & strong: RO1 beats out the competition in speed and accuracy despite having the highest payload capacity in its class at 18 kg.
  • Truly collaborative: RO1 has built-in safety sensors and collision detection for safe, reliable operation on your shop floor.

Talk to our solutions team now to set up a free, 30-day onsite trial and receive specialized advice on everything you need to deploy RO1.

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