Meet the Smartest Robot Arm

MIT Technology Review is introducing the world’s smartest robot arm. They begin with a reminder about the limitations of robot arms: they can’t do anything they haven’t been programmed to do, they can’t tell a marshmallow from a cube of lead, and picking up any single piece of chicken and setting it into a bento box would be “an act of genius.”

In fact, that is what the incredibly smart robotic arm in the article can do. It can pick up one piece of chicken from a pile of chicken pieces and set it into a bento box.

A two-year old human can do this, actually, if you’re not too fussy about hygiene.

But it is an amazing accomplishment for a robot. This is the Osara robot arm. It uses artificial intelligence to identify objects in front of it, experiment with moving them, and learn how to pick and place the specific objects with which it is confronted.

The next time it needs to pick and place something, it can learn how to handle the new substance. Artificial intelligence and machine learning make this amazing feat possible.

Amazing feat?

Often, when a robot seems to be able to do something amazing, that task falls into one of two categories.

First, it’s something impressive looking that the robot is programmed to do. Playing chess really well is a task a robot can be programmed to do. That same robot can’t be expected to flip a burger or apply adhesive to a box, or anything else. It just plays chess.

Second, it’s something that is impressive just because it’s so hard for a robot to do. Walking up stairs is easy for human beings, cats, and many other creatures, but it’s amazing when a robot can do it. Can the robot also flip burgers or apply adhesive? Because walking up stairs is not a particularly desirable skill in an industrial robot.

But being able to identify random objects and figure out how to move them from one place to another is valuable. Especially with the new reality of manufacturing: small runs of customizable products and lot of variety of tasks in a small footprint. The massive robot that can apply adhesive in four spots on a specific size of box is a lot less useful than it was in the past.

AI and robotics, together

Artificial intelligence has a lot of potential when combined with robotics and motion control. Who knows what the future may hold?

In the meantime, we should be your first call when you need service and support for your Rexroth electric industrial motion control. We’re specialists, and we can get your facility back on track fast.

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