Is Democratization making things dumb?

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UR democratization

Democratization is the process of providing access to technology to all people.  Access to industry assets is often possible thanks to the introduction of tools that allows everyone, even those without specific experience or expertise, to carry out complex tasks.

In the robotics industry, democratization allows anyone to program and use robots without having specific knowledge of those complex machines. However, are we sure that this paradigm is not oversimplifying the way we interact with robots? Is democratization making things dumb?


Programming industrial robots is quite a complex task, which often requires expertise on many technical topics: coding, off-line simulation, safety, electrical and  fieldbus integration.

The introduction of Collaborative Robots has been an important step forward for the democratization process, as collaborative Robots has many features that simplify setup and programming of robotics applications.

For example many collaborative robots have a Free Drive function which allow users to manually move the robot  as it was weightless. Moving the robot in this way is key solution to teach positions by demonstration in a very intuitive and fast way without writing a single line of code.

The evolution of graphic user interfaces has also contributed to the development of the democratization process. The use of intuitive panels and step-by-step guided procedures allows operators to use robot devices as if they were simple smartphone applications.

Is Democratization making things dumb?

All this is very positive for new users who are approaching robotics sector for the first time. But what about expert users? As an expert robot programmer, when I approach a collaborative robot, I often have the impression that I am only provided with ultra-simplified tools, almost like toys viewed from my perspective. Tools for expert roboticists are often very raw or completely missing.

Donโ€™t get me wrong! I am a great supporter of the democratization process, having developed some democratization tools myself. What I am saying is that in the whole population of robotics programmers, going from โ€œNewbieโ€ to โ€œGuruโ€, everyone should find proper tools suited to their level of expertise. Isn’t this what democratization means?

However the expert part of the population is often forgotten, as collaborative robots focus most on beginner users. And I think this is a serious mistake!

Thatโ€™s because expert users are actually the one that will work to develop new technologies useful to the democratization process. Expert users are the one that will develop assets, technologies and applications used by the beginner ones,  so they deserve proper tools to achieve their mission.

For this reason at Robpod we have developed Robpod Studio, an IDE โ€“ Integrated Development Environment โ€“ for expert collaborative robots programmers. We want to take care of expert user so they can take care of beginner ones.

Robpod Studio comes with many features to support programming of robotic applications.

Advanced Scripting: smart code auto completion speed up development process by instantly acquiring robot positions and movements inside code.

Synchronization: scripts and files composing the application are transferred automatically between PC and robot controller.

Off-line Simulation: applications can be easily prototyped and developed working inside simulation environments.

HMI Desiger: drag and drop design of customized HMI panel for robot teach pendant.

If you want to join us on the path for democratization you can Download Robpod Studio and have a look at the Robpod Studio Docs.