3 November 2020

Robots as accelerators of inclusion

Robot technology can boost the workforce participation of people with disabilities. A joint project between wertkreis Gutersloh gGmbH, Rethink Robotics GmbH and the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany set out to find prove the case.

The cobots arrive

Rethink Robotics handed over two Sawyer cobots to the vocational training department of the wertkreis Gutersloh and the chair for manufacturing technology at the University of Duisburg-Essen.

Taking the idea of ‘Inclusion 4.0 with collaborative systems’, the use of robot technology and cobots is intended to open up better opportunities for people with disabilities in inclusion, education and participation by means of adapted work processes and new types of applications.

The cobots' areas of application include the implementation of quality controls directly at the assembly workstation as well as the automated processing of production peaks. The aim is to develop systems that enable people with disabilities or people without the ability to express themselves to carry out complex work assignments independently. A prerequisite for using these systems is that they must be easy to program.

Michael Buschsieweke, managing director of wertkreis Gutersloh gGmbH explains, ‘Exactly such digital forms of assistance are a future model for people with handicaps. Ideally, at some point they will be as natural as sight and walking aids. Simply a tool that enables people to participate in the labour market’.

‘Using workshops for people with disabilities as incubators for new systems is an approach with which we have had good experiences in the past,’ says Holger Dander, project manager at the Department of Manufacturing Technology at the University of Duisburg-Essen. ‘In this environment, the focus must be placed on the human being so that the human-machine interaction works. Solutions that have proven themselves here can then be quickly and easily transferred to other areas of the working world’.