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Business trends

Japanese robots help factory workers keep social distance

Fanuc triples output of 'collaborative' models that work alongside humans

Fanuc, which makes this industrial robot, is boosting output of "collaborative" machines that can work alongside people in factories.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Japanese robot makers have begun pushing advanced models that can work side by side with people on production lines, seeing growing demand among manufacturers concerned about crowded factories turning into COVID-19 hotbeds.

In contrast to conventional industrial robots, which operate at high speeds and must be kept away from human workers for safety reasons, these so-called collaborative robots move more slowly and can detect and avoid people. They have grown in popularity amid the pandemic, sharply boosting productivity while letting employees avoid working close to one another.

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