Manufacturing matters and re-industrialisation requires major strategic initiatives under a European umbrella with significant public and private investments. Digitalisation, AI and robotisation are often seen as a threat, but are in fact an enormous opportunity. Collaborative robots, or cobots, are intended to work alongside or interact with humans in a shared space. The best qualities of machines — strength, endurance, quality, consistency, precision, being able to process a huge number of data — are combined with the dexterity, flexibility and problem-solving ability of humans.
Fuelled by the many projects on collaborative robot technology, Europe is leading in industrial collaborative robots: European robotics companies have cobots in their portfolio, and several new companies have been founded in the EU. Europe starts from a strong position in robotics. According to a market study of collaborative robots in 2017, Europe accounted for the largest market share, but is in danger of being surpassed by the Asia-Pacific region in 2025. The number of collaborative robots is still very limited, especially where physical collaboration is desired. Collaborative robotics is a unique technology that with proper management has the potential to improve both the economy and the society while embracing Europe’s values.
This report offers a vision on collaborative industrial robotics based on 10 assessment criteria with seven recommendations with the intention to be included in the framework for the preparation of the strategic plan of Horizon Europe