Although industrial robots have long been an important part of production, many people still think of them as expensive and difficult equipment with safety concerns. However, the deployment of industrial robots is becoming increasingly accessible thanks to lower prices and simpler programming, making them faster and easier for small and medium-sized enterprises to deploy and programme.

The democratisation of robotics is made possible by a combination of technological and economic factors, such as lower component costs, effective use of AI, a strong industry push for standardisation of robotics software and operating systems, and a strong financial incentive towards Industry 4.0 and digitalisation. Robot deployment has been revolutionised by no-code or low-code solutions, which allow companies to automate their industrial processes with the help of easy-to-use visual programming tools. Collaborative robots are incredibly flexible, lightweight, inexpensive, easy to program and versatile enough to be quickly reused for a variety of industrial jobs.

B2B companies across Europe are competing to solve a particular robotics challenge: how to make it easier to educate a robot to perform a task.

ReBeL is a low-cost cobot made by the German company igus, initially focused on moving plastic cables. It costs less than 5,000 euros and requires no programming skills from the user.

Fuzzy Studio, a codeless platform for robot programming, has been developed by French startup Fuzzy Logic. It allows users to generate automation routines through a 3D simulation of robots in their operating environment.

The Wandelbots Teaching App, based in Dresden, provides a unified interface for programming robots through a ‘pencil’, a connected device that allows a human worker to create paths and actions that robotic arms can replicate accurately.

No-code or low-code solutions, according to ABB Robotics, will expand rapidly in the coming years. With the help of its Wizard platforms, visual programming is made possible, which simplifies learning and allows experienced and novice programmers to coexist. Expert programmers can design their code blocks and deliver them as an easy-to-use component that anyone else can use to install.

Some are already wondering what the future holds for robot intelligence and learning capabilities, even if the current trend is towards simplifying the deployment of robotics.

To provide generic intelligence to all types of robots, Conscience Robotics is creating a universal operating system called Conscience OS. This questions the future role of labour in a sector where automation is on the verge of becoming a commodity. However, the shortage of sufficiently trained human labour is an important factor in the democratisation of robots, based on the current state of the market.

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