Jon Borregan-Alvarado1, Izaskun Alvarez-Meaza1, Ernesto Cilleruelo-Carrasco1 and Gaizka Garechana-Anacabe1

1 Business Organization Dept. University of the Basque Country UPV/EHU. Ingeniero Torres Quevedo Square, 1, 48013 Bilbao (Spain)

Keywords: Collaborative Robots, Cobots, Patent Analysis, Network Analysis.

1. Introduction

The Industry 4.0 (I4.0) concept, together with the implementation of relevant emerging technologies, i.e. areas such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), automation and robotics, or Human-Machine Interaction (HMI) [1], have originated the technological enabler known as collaborative robots [2] or cobots. This collaboration between robots and humans is one of the main technologies of I4.0, which duly combines human skills with the strengths of intelligent machines [3], gaining in productivity and efficiency [4], greater flexibility for future process changes, guaranteed safety or increased accuracy.

2. Objectives

The main objective is to define and map the technological profile of collaborative robots, analyzing the evolution of the creation of inventions, inventive performance, and the main technological fields. A network analysis will allow us to map the most important collaborations and to identify those patent assignees that focus their development on technology linked to climate change mitigation.

3. Methodology

The objective will be achieved in three stages, the first stage being a comprehensive analysis of collaborative robots in the Scopus database and corroboration by experts in the field. This query has been adapted to a worldwide patent database PatSeer, that covers patent activity in 121 countries [5]. In the second stage, the retrieved data will be cleaned up and then analyzed using a combination of statistics, and finally in the third stage we will generate a series of networks that will allow us to identify the relationships between assignees and technological fields.

4. Results

The number of Patent Families (PF) remains practically constant from 2001 to 2011, and only starts to grow from 2011 onwards, with China developing more than half of the inventions, followed by the United States (US), Germany, South Korea and Japan. As for the inventors, or who is creating the inventions, the most productive are exclusively related to Chinese universities and research centers, and companies noted for patent generation. The main assignees or beneficiaries of patents are the Japanese company Fanuc Corporation and the German company Kuka Systems GmbH.

The most common Cooperative Patent Classification (CPC) observed is code B25J, [“performing operations; transportation (B): hand tools; portable power-driven tools; manipulators (25): chambers (J)”], with the subclasses related to this code being the main technological fields of inventions, together with CPC G05B [“physics (G): controlling; regulating (05): functional elements; monitoring or testing arrangements for such systems or elements (B)”].

Finally, it is observed that there are several companies and universities working on CPCs (and their corresponding sub-areas) related to “climate change mitigation technologies in the production or processing of goods” (Y02P) and “information or communication technologies that have an impact on other technological areas” (Y04), also noting that a small number of sub-areas concerning Y02P and Y04 are worked exclusively by a single company.

5. Conclusion

The research carried out in this paper allows us to observe the exponential growth of patents on collaborative robots as a consequence of the fourth industrial revolution.

On the one hand, Chinese organizations tend to protect their patents exclusively in China, while the rest of the major companies protect their patents in different countries, as a result of having headquarters in other countries or continents. On the other hand, the specialization of the main assignees of patents is linked to robotics and industrial automation applied to manufacturing and the automotive industry.

In reference to technological fields, the main fields refer to technology related to hand tools or manipulators, with emphasis also on human-robot coexistence.

Having said this, it can be concluded that this is a very active field of research, which opens doors to new in-depth research in this area, as in the field related to climate change mitigation, thus generating and conveying greater knowledge for the scientific community analyzing the scientific works related to these patents.


  1. Chen, Q.; Heydari, B.; Moghaddam, M. Leveraging Task Modularity in Reinforcement Learning for Adaptable Industry 4.0 Automation. J. Mech. Des. 2021, 143, 071701, doi:10.1115/1.4049531.
  2. Jimeno-Morenilla, A.; Azariadis, P.; Molina-Carmona, R.; Kyratzi, S.; Moulianitis, V. Technology Enablers for the Implementation of Industry 4.0 to Traditional Manufacturing Sectors: A Review. Comput. Ind. 2021, 125, 103390, doi:10.1016/j.compind.2020.103390.
  3. Gualtieri, L.; Rauch, E.; Vidoni, R. Emerging Research Fields in Safety and Ergonomics in Industrial Collaborative Robotics: A Systematic Literature Review. Robot. Comput.-Integr. Manuf. 2021, 67, 101998, doi:10.1016/j.rcim.2020.101998.
  4. Vido, M.; Scur, G.; Massote, A.A.; Lima, F. The Impact of the Collaborative Robot on Competitive Priorities: Case Study of an Automotive Supplier. Gest. Produção 2020, 27, e5358, doi:10.1590/0104-530×5358-20.
  5. Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, J. F. Kennedy 6, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia; Pejić Bach, M.; Pivar, J.; Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, J. F. Kennedy 6, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia; Dumičić, K.; Faculty of Economics and Business, University of Zagreb, J. F. Kennedy 6, 10 000 Zagreb, Croatia Data Anonymization Patent Landscape. Croat. Oper. Res. Rev. 2017, 8, 265–281, doi:10.17535/crorr.2017.0017.


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Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Industrial Engineering and Industrial Management and XXV Congreso de Ingeniería de Organización Copyright © by (Eds.) José Manuel Galán; Silvia Díaz-de la Fuente; Carlos Alonso de Armiño Pérez; Roberto Alcalde Delgado; Juan José Lavios Villahoz; Álvaro Herrero Cosío; Miguel Ángel Manzanedo del Campo; and Ricardo del Olmo Martínez is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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