By Matt Beane for MIT Technology Review: I think perhaps there’s something else at work here. Beyond building robots to increase productivity and do dangerous, dehumanizing tasks, we have made the technology into a potent symbol of sweeping change in the labor market, increased inequality, and recently the displacement of workers. If we replace the word “robot” with “machine,” this has happened in cycles extending well back through the Industrial Revolution. Holders of capital invest in machinery to increase production because they get a better return, and then many people, including some journalists, academics, and workers cry foul, pointing to the machinery as destroying jobs. Amidst the uproar, eventually there are a few reports of people angrily breaking the machines.
Two years ago, I did an observational study of semiautonomous mobile delivery robots at three different hospitals. I went in looking for how using the robots changed the way work got done, but I found out that beyond increasing productivity through delivery work, the robots were kept around as a symbol of how progressive the hospitals were, and that when people who’d been doing similar delivery jobs at the hospitals quit, their positions weren’t filled. Cont'd...
by Patrick Davison, Director of Standards Development, Robotic Industries Association: Last week, an unfortunate fatality involving an industrial robot and a worker occurred at a Volkswagen plant in Baunatal, Germany. The Robotic Industries Association (RIA) and its member companies express its deepest sympathies to the victim’s family, friends, and colleagues.
According to news sources, the worker was part of a contracting crew responsible for setting up the robot, and was working inside the safeguarded space when the incident occurred. A second member of the contracting crew was standing outside of the safeguarded space and was not harmed.
The international media response to the incident was aggressive, swift, and expounded on topics that were not relevant to the incident. AWashington Post article referenced the dangers of Artificial Intelligence and posed the question, “Should the world kill killer robots before it’s too late?” In another story, a Financial Times journalist with a name similar to a popular character in The Terminator franchise started a social media frenzy with a tweet. A video from Ireland expounds on random tweets regarding the incident with backdrop footage of the Honda ASIMO robot and manual automotive operations. Also, according to this article on an automotive news and gossip site, a Times of India article posted a photo of a gun-wielding toy robot beside the story. Cont'd...
Robots have been doing tough jobs for over half a century, mostly in the automotive sector, but they’ve probably had a bigger impact in Hollywood movies than on factory floors.
That’s about to change.
Today’s robots can see better, think faster, adapt to changing situations, and work with a gentler touch. Some of them are no longer bolted to the factory floor, and they’re moving beyond automotive manufacturing. They’re also getting cheaper.
These improvements are helping to drive demand. In fact, we expect the global industrial robot population to double to about four million by 2020, changing the competitive landscape in dozens of fields — from underground mining to consumer goods and aerospace manufacturing. Robots will allow more manufacturers to produce locally and raise productivity with a knowledge-based workforce. Cont'd...
ABB Robotics hosts over 1,600 guests at its United States Robot Factory opening and Customer Days 2015 events
Clearpath Robotics announced the newest member of its robot fleet: an omnidirectional development platform called Ridgeback. The mobile robot is designed to carry heavy payloads and easily integrate with a variety of manipulators and sensors. Ridgeback was unveiled as a mobile base for Rethink Robotics' Baxter research platform at ICRA 2015 in Seattle, Washington.
ABB, a leading power and automation group, announced it acquired Gomtec GmbH to expand its offering in the field of collaborative robots. The parties agreed not to disclose financial terms of the transaction.
Gomtec, based near Munich, Germany, is a privately held company that develops mechatronic systems combining mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, control and computer engineering for customers in diverse industries. It has 25 employees.
Gomtec's technology platform will strengthen ABB's development of a new generation of "safe-by-design" collaborative robots that can be operated outside of cages or protective fencing, expanding opportunities to deploy them in new applications.
Teradyne and Universal Robots Announce Agreement for Teradyne to Acquire Universal Robots, Leader in Collaborative Robots
Henderson Sewing Weaves an Integrated Automation Solution with Smart, Collaborative Robots from Rethink Robotics
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