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Robots in Industry: The Past, Present, and Future of a Growing Collaboration With Humans
IEEE Industrial Electronics Magazine  (IF6.625),  Pub Date : 2020-12-23, DOI: 10.1109/mie.2020.3008136
Antoni Grau, Marina Indri, Lucia Lo Bello, Thilo Sauter

Robots have been part of automation systems for a very long time, and in public perception, they are often synonymous with automation and industrial revolution perse. Fueled by Industry 4.0 and Internet of Things (IoT) concepts as well as by new software technologies, the field of robotics in industry is currently undergoing a revolution on its own. This article gives an overview of the evolution of robotics from its beginnings to recent trends like collaborative robotics, autonomous robots, and human- robot interaction. Particular attention is devoted to the deep changes of the last decades, from the traditional industrial scenario based on isolated robotic cells up to the most recent coworking and collaborative robots. The role of robotics in the Industry 4.0 framework is analyzed, and the relationships with industrial communications and software technologies are also discussed. Some future directions for robotics are envisaged, focusing on the contributions coming from new materials, sensors, actuators, and technologies. Open issues are highlighted as well as the main barriers that currently limit the deployment of industrial robots in the small and medium enterprise (SME) world.