10 Things You Didn’t Know about Robots

Robots are commonplace in American factories now, but there are still some things about their past, present, and future that you might not know. Use these facts to win bar trivia or water cooler bets. Or just to know more about something that could be as much an agent of change for us in the 21st century as the internet.

  1. The International Trade Administration ranked a dozen nations in the order in which they were expected to stand as markets for industrial automation product exports. #1? Mexico.
  2. The International Federation of Robotics expects 2019 to be a boom year for automation, with 1.4 million new robots in service globally. That could mean a 300% increase in the U.S. alone.
  3. The IFR also points out that manufacturing jobs and new robot installations have been on a parallel course in the U.S. over the past few years. Correlation isn’t causation, but it can still be good news.
  4. Highest robot density in the world? That would be South Korea.
  5. The robots Spirit and Opportunity were built to travel across Mars for 90 days back in 2003. They’re still  at it. This is sort of like Rexroth electric industrial motion control systems. We’ve seen them in service for decades.
  6. Robot technology is impressively versatile. The same company used the same technology for PackBots, which sniff out terrorists in war-torn countries, and Roomba, which vacuums homes.
  7. Mathematicians have concluded, based on research over the past decade, that robots are not capable of human-like thought or emotion.
  8. However, we humans consistently show that we will treat robots as though they have thoughts and emotions, so it might not matter that they don’t.
  9. Robots can save money in factories by taking on human jobs. However, they can also save money by collaborating with humans to reduce workplace injuries. Robots don’t mind doing repetitive tasks in uncomfortable environments. (See point #7.)
  10. While the first working robot is generally agreed to be a steam-powered bird built in the 5th century, the first programmable humanoid robots were mechanical musicians built by Ismail Al-Jazari in the 13th century. Cams allowed programming of different rhythms for the music the lifesized automata played.

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