The Future of Automation

Media mogul Steve Forbes will be the keynote speaker at Automate 2013 in January. Henrik Chritensen, Director of Robotics at Georgia Tech, will deliver the keynote at the Future of Robotics.

Both will be talking about the U.S. Robotics Roadmap.

This document (you can read it yourself by clicking through the link) starts by saying that automation used to be seen as a way to improve efficiency, safety, and throughput rates, but now it should be seen as an “economic enabler.” Robotech, the report says, is the next internet: a source of jobs in the short run and a source of solutions to critical social problems in the future.


One of the major points in the report is that our aging population will need robots, not only to make jobs easier for aging workers, but also to improve the medical care and household hep we’ll be needing as we all move into that “aging” group.This prediction includes not only increasing reliance on industrial automation, but also those robot butlers and housekeepers we’ve been wanting.

Increasing need for robotics is foreseen in fields like medicine and logistics that are becoming increasingly important and also increasingly complex. Industries like mining which are increasingly seen as too dangerous for human workers are another opportunity for automation.

The expectation is that the United States, which has for some time been behind European and Asian countries in commitment to automation and robotics technologies, should get committed now. The days of building factories in countries with cheap labor are numbered, and America’s assembly line workers are getting ready to retire. Increasing automation with innovative technology will put the U.S. back in the forefront of manufacturing.

The roadmap relies heavily on education to get from here to there: it’s expected that we’ll bring up a new generation of engineers who will be as comfortable with robots as today’s engineers are with their cell phones.

Servo motors, the first examples of AI, will still be needed, of course.

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