The Golden Age of Robotics

Wired magazine reports that 2017 ushered in the Golden Age of Robotics, which should really take off in the coming year. They point to the food delivery robots and household robots, not one of which can reliably make you a cup of coffee yet. Self-driving vehicles are a reality, though, and robot coworkers are becoming commonplace in factories.

What made 2017 a watershed year?

According to Wired, three things brought about the 2017 rise of robots:

  • An upsurge in sensors allowed robots to come out of their cages and do things in the real world. Adding sensors to new machinery and retrofitting existing industrial robots with sensors has made it possible for industrial robots to do things like load pallets, which they couldn’t do before.
  • Increased brainpower allows robots to get beyond repetitive tasks in a severely restricted environment. Let’s face it, a robot arm that does the same motions over and over under the control of a servo motor doesn’t have to be very smart. Being able to learn new tasks or to carry out jobs requiring movement in an unpredictable environment — that takes smarts.
  • Not only have computers gotten much smarter, but they’ve also gotten cheaper. The components of a smart machine now cost anywhere from 50% to 3% of their cost in 2010. A backflipping robot is no more useful now than it was in 2012, but it’s inexpensive enough to become a reality.

So the falling down robots of 2015 (shown in the video at the top of this post) could become reliably walking robots in 2108. It could be like the human breakthrough of the four minute mile. It was considered impossible till it happened, and now it’s common. At least among world-class athletes.

We hear a lot about the importance to industrial automation of machine learning and artificial intelligence. But physicist Michio Kaku points out that developments in robotics are like building a ladder to the moon — you can have a very tall ladder without actually being anywhere near the moon. Industry 4.0 applications of current robotics technology can wow us, but most factories still need robots to do repetitive tasks in exactly the same way over and over.

“Alexa, bring me a cup of coffee” won’t get you a cup of coffee at home or in the factory. Calling us will, however, get you a solution to your Rexroth electric motion control problems, no matter how complex they seem. Call (479) 422-0390 for immediate assistance with Rexroth service.

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