The top 4 types of Collaborative robots you need to know

January 7, 2024
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So, what are Cobots?

Cobots, or Collaborative robots, are designed to work directly with humans. Unlike traditional Industrial robots that are kept separate from workers and behind safety cages, Cobots can operate right alongside people.

How do they achieve this? Through high-end sensors and vision systems, making collaborative operations much safer - although, of course, not completely foolproof. 

The top 4 types of Collaborative robots

Some of the most common types of Collaborative robots you should know about are: 

  • Power and force limiting Cobots: Often the first thing that comes to mind when people think about "Collaborative robots," these are designed to detect human contact and stop cold if they detect a human.
  • Safety-rated/monitored stop Cobots: These Cobots identify when a person enters a specified area and stop their tasks until the person exits, without the need for manual restart. Perfect for situations with limited interaction between humans and robots.
  • Speed and separation Cobots: A.k.a. "fenceless" Cobots; these excel in scenarios with minimal human interaction but where people still need to access the robot easily. Safety laser area scanners create zones around the robot's workspace. When someone approaches, the Cobot slows and halts if someone enters its workspace, going back to normal operations after they leave. 
  • Hand-guiding Cobots: These Cobots have a safety-rated device at the robot arm's end to enable manual guidance by a person. A great fit for mobile applications shifting between stations, requiring frequent reprogramming for diverse tasks, and quick manual adjustments in different job setups.

Cobots? What are they good for? 

The main benefit of Cobots is taking over repetitive, dangerous, down-n-dirty tasks. This cuts down the risk of humans getting injured and frees up their valuable brainpower for other, higher-end tasks. 

Cobots tend to be easier to program and set up as well. Some innovative Cobots even use very simple no-code frameworks to remove the need for specialized technicians or a whole dedicated IT team. 

Cobots have a small footprint and are portable, so you can move them between workstations as needed. 

They can also be very affordable, fast to set up, and do not require expensive guarding like traditional Industrial robots. This reduces the need to thoroughly modify your shop floor before adoption.

For SMEs, Cobots provide an easy way to automate processes without a major investment. They open up opportunities for companies to adopt new technologies and compete with well-established industrial titans. 

Cobot applications:

Manufacturing companies are using Cobots for assembly, Pick and Place, packaging, CNC machine tending, and palletizing - among others. 

Cobots handle delicate parts with care and accuracy, and can even take care of quality control. In some cases, humans handle this second part, enabling a robot/human partnership.

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Should you use a Cobot?

So, when should you consider bringing in a Cobot to supercharge your operations?

If your company struggles with labor shortages, work overload, or hazardous jobs, a Cobot may help. 

They are ideal for small businesses and can work with employees to boost productivity and morale. 

However, Cobots may require both upfront and ongoing investments, as well as regular training to implement effectively. They also work best for specific, limited tasks - although they are fast-improving when it comes to complex jobs.

It’s also worth noting that companies typically see full ROI within 1-3 years of implementing most types of Collaborative robots. 

In our view, the benefits of increased productivity and reduced costs far outweigh the initial expense. 

So, if you think a Cobot could help your team out, look into options and pilot programs to find what works best for your needs. Some companies like Standard Bots even offer lease options at the equivalent of $5/hour! 

Cobots - yes, there are some possible downsides

Collaborative robots are mostly beneficial, but there are a few downsides to seriously ponder before you make a purchase:

They’re not cheap

Cobots can set you back a hefty amount, even for lower-end options. While smaller, less complex Cobots may hover from $2,000-8,000, higher-end models with top-level specs can go for $100,000+.

And then, there are other costs to consider, like shop floor modification, maintenance, etc. However, we have to reiterate that Cobots can save money in the long run through increased productivity, reduced downtime, and fewer accidents.

They’re complex

Collaborative robots may be more complex to program and integrate than traditional robots that operate in isolation

It requires time and expertise to properly train Cobots and double-check they can work safely and effectively with people. Regular retraining and updates are also needed as tasks change.

But, some more modern Cobots also have simplified user interfaces, and don’t even require coding knowledge to integrate with your operations, so keep an eye out for these options

Safe, but not foolproof

Although Cobots are designed to work safely with humans, there is always a possibility of accidents or injuries if the robot is misprogrammed, malfunctions or a human employee tests their luck with the collision detection. 

Proper safeguards and training are essential to minimize risks when Cobots and people share a workspace.

Job impact

There’s a generalized worry that Collaborative robots could negatively impact jobs as they take over more and more tasks. 

However, many new jobs are also emerging in Cobot programming, operation, and maintenance. Overall, there’s an optimism that Cobots will create more jobs overall.


We hope you’re more open to starting your automation journey now that you’ve learned about the four main types of Collaborative robots. 

To us, human-machine collaboration is not far into the future, but a topic that warrants careful consideration in the now

After all, new brands and Cobot opportunities are allowing SMEs to become increasingly competitive, especially in manufacturing businesses

Next Steps

Ready to enter a whole new age of productivity and safety? Meet RO1 from Standard Bots—the #1 choice for both established industrial giants and enterprising small and medium businesses.

  • Affordable and reliable: RO1 leads its class of robotic arms, delivering unparalleled value at half the cost of its nearest competition.
  • Swift & robust: Despite sporting a best-in-class payload of 18 kg, RO1 outpaces rivals in both speed and precision.
  • Built-in safety: Equipped with safety sensors and collision detection, RO1 ensures secure and dependable operations right on your shop floor.

Get in touch with our solutions team today to initiate a complimentary, 30-day onsite trial and receive tailored guidance for a seamless RO1 deployment!

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