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Taking Industrial Automation to the Next Level

Think human relations can be tricky? Try human and robot relations.

But that has not stopped European researchers from starting an initiative to take such collaboration even further in manufacturing settings--upping the automation game in the process.

Launched in September, the LIAA involves a European consortium led by Fraunhofer IPA that is seeking to combine the cognitive abilities of humans with the strength and repeatability of robots.

The LIAA has identified five industrial pilot cases.

The results if successful would benefit medical device assembly and many other fields through increased productivity, as well as reduced costs for automation solutions.

Over the past few years, researchers have been developing new systems that allow for smart collaboration between industrial robots and their human peers.

Last year, a novel robotic system made headlines for its ability to work side-by-side with people.

Employees with minimal experience are able to train the robot named Baxter. In addition, the system features a screen-based digital face that allows workers to see where the robot's "attention" is focused. As of now, the system is in use at a variety of industrial sites around the world.

To create optimal collaboration between humans and robots, intelligent algorithms transform an assembly process into a series of steps, according to a recent Nanowerk report.

Based on workload and task suitability, these processes are assigned to humans or machines. 

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