The requirements on flexibility and quality in the context of Industry 4.0 are steadily increasing, and the pressure of competition is intensifying. Direct cooperation between humans and robots will therefore be of crucial significance in future.
Robots have already been extensively used in industry since the 1980s, but despite all gains in efficiency within the various production processes, their sphere of action has remained limited. Thanks to further developments in computer and sensor technology and the use of self-learning software – “artificial intelligence” – a new generation of robots are now departing from these islands of firmly programmed routines and entering into an interactive work process with their “human colleagues”. An increasing number of these new assistance systems are now emerging, especially collaboration robots. These are being used in human-robot collaboration systems, working hand in hand with human operators. This makes workflows more varied, reduces ergonomic burden and enhances work satisfaction. Under consideration of aspects from the fields of technology, work safety, ergonomics and ethics, the Ladenburg Roundtable dealt with robotic assistance systems, their influence on the future of work, and their role in shaping society.
Prof. Dr. Hans-Jürgen Buxbaum, Hochschule Niederrhein/Krefeld