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Automate 2015 takeaways


IDPE was at Automate2015 to examine some of the latest technology advances in automation.
Main conclusions:

I. Collaborative robots aka ‘Cobots’ are gaining momentum:


  1. Major robotic manufacturers are entering this new segment (KUKA, ABB), catching up to the successful challengers (Rethink Robotics, Universal Robots, et al.)
  2. Safety regulation is lagging behind, manufacturers such as UR assisting the development of new ISO norm. Dozens of installed systems determined in low risk category and working side-by-side with operators without cage. Force and vision sensors main technologies to create safety path.
  3. Economies of scale (extensive use in other industries) are making sensors (presence, tactile, vision, force) cheaper and more accessible for use in robots. This results in robots being increasingly aware of their environment, flexible to varying production conditions (dynamic assembly, human presence, product variation, etc.).
  4. Increased connectivity: robots no longer isolated but linked to internal networks and internet, allowing robot networks to share computing power, knowledge (database) and obtain info as required, enhancing its capabilities thru AI
  5. MIT (Prof. J.Shah) is making great progress developing the algorithms allowing industrial robots to adapt their behavior and task scheduling in relation to intermittent human presence, and this without sacrificing productivity, as well as strategies for dynamic learning by human example.


Common objective: bringing human knowledge and creativity back to the production floor, working together with ever safer and smarter robots. A bridging manufacturing system between the two extremes of a fully robotic assembly line (ej. automotive factories) and the human equivalent (thousands of workers in an electronics assembly plant, China).


II. Lots of different developments and strategies to efficiently program a robot:

  1. Virtual/software environments
  2. Teaching by example
  3. Voice and gesture commands
  4. Robot autonomy thru connectivity and environmental sensing
  5. Teach pendants becoming easier to use, big touch screen

III. Steve Wozniak ‘The Woz’ Lecture:

Is still kickin’ as a technology visionary: his talk about the technology trends of the future proved to be very inspiring and strikingly universal.


Main insight: how the internet and the collective knowledge embedded in it will create the brain and the artificial conscience for machines as they are increasingly connected to it. 1975: 1 Apple computer per school – 2025: 1 tutor (computer) per student ?!
Best advice: do some things just for the fun of it. You will learn, grow, and your brain will make a whole new set of connections and insights.

 Slide on People and Robots working together:
 Automotive Assembly Line –
 Chinese Factory Workers Assembly Line –


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