Infographic: Robots & Automation in U.S. Manufacturing

An infographic from Kuka Robotics describes the benefits of automation, Rethink Robotics smiles and nods

2 min read
Infographic: Robots & Automation in U.S. Manufacturing

Kuka Robotics put together this nifty infographic describing how manufacturing robots aren't necessarily evil job stealin' machines of... evil. It's especially timely what with yesterday's big news about a certain robotics company that wants to use robots to make domestic manufacturing more cost effective and efficient, although Rethink is tackling things much differently than big boys like Kuka.

What Kuka's trying to sell you on here is medium to large scale industrial automation, involving robots in safety cages run by skilled operators. It's certainly true that automation of any kind can help a business that's making a lot of the same sort of thing, but for smaller businesses that do contract work, dedicated robots are rarely worth the massive up-front investment.

With Baxter, Rethink is trying to bring all of the benefits of having robots in the workplace to small businesses that haven't had access to this sort of technology before. It's not just that Baxter is (relatively) cheap at $22,000; but also that the robot can be easily programmed to do all kinds of different stuff by humans without any special operator training. So when Kuka talks about industrial robots creating jobs for humans with robotics skills, Rethink is sort of going in the opposite direction with robots that bring human skills to to a human workplace, creating jobs by making existing workers more efficient and lowering the cost of production to levels that are competitive with offshore manufacturing once you figure in the ugly side of trying to make something overseas.

We're certainly not saying that Rethink is somehow going about this in a better way than Kuka (or ABB or Adept or anyone else). Rather, Rethink is leveraging some unique technology to try to bring all of the benefits you'd find in the big business big robots world to the small business small robots world as well. Anyway, the infographic is below. You'll want to click on this image to make it nice and big and readable, otherwise you're in for a massive headache and probably an eyeball explosion or two.

[ Kuka ] via [ Robotland ]

The Conversation (0)

How Robots Can Help Us Act and Feel Younger

Toyota’s Gill Pratt on enhancing independence in old age

10 min read
An illustration of a woman making a salad with robotic arms around her holding vegetables and other salad ingredients.
Dan Page

By 2050, the global population aged 65 or more will be nearly double what it is today. The number of people over the age of 80 will triple, approaching half a billion. Supporting an aging population is a worldwide concern, but this demographic shift is especially pronounced in Japan, where more than a third of Japanese will be 65 or older by midcentury.

Toyota Research Institute (TRI), which was established by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2015 to explore autonomous cars, robotics, and “human amplification technologies,” has also been focusing a significant portion of its research on ways to help older people maintain their health, happiness, and independence as long as possible. While an important goal in itself, improving self-sufficiency for the elderly also reduces the amount of support they need from society more broadly. And without technological help, sustaining this population in an effective and dignified manner will grow increasingly difficult—first in Japan, but globally soon after.

Keep Reading ↓Show less