The Robot Revolution

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Automation World reports that there is a robot revolution going on. Just not the one you might have been expecting if you keep up with the movies.

The first thing people think about when they invest in a humanoid robot like Baxter, its makers say, is how it might endanger them:

  • Will it hurt me?
  • Will it take my job?

Rexroth says no. Rexroth’s Open Core software has opened robotics to new players just in the past few years, and increased flexibility for large players as well. The result has been an increase in the tasks robots have taken on. for example, Rexroth has implemented robots in medical labs. They deal with blood tests faster and more accurately than human nurses, and they are not in any danger from bio-contaminants.

Shielding human workers from danger has always been a big part of robots’ jobs. But shielding human workers from robots has also been required. New Rexroth servo motors have  the ability to respond instantly to something like accidental contact with a human being. Instead of waiting for the CPU to notice, or for a human operator to respond, the response is built into the drive. That means that the robot can stop moving instantly.

That’s definitely when you want a robot to stop moving if a human worker is involved.

Machine vision systems also enhance factory safety, since the robot can see obstacles (such as human coworkers) before running into them. And new “skins” on the latest generation of robots make accidental contact with a robot less dangerous, because the newest robots, like people, have some give. A softer surface makes contact less dangerous.

As for jobs, smaller companies that invest in automation are more likely to become bigger companies, and to need more workers, not fewer.

Fear of robots should be a thing of the past.

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