Robot Dancing Record

A new world record has been set. 1,007 dancing robots shook their mechanical booties for one full minute to accomplish this feat at the 2016 Qingdao International Beer Festival.

While this is pretty cool to watch on video and must have been even more cool to watch in person, does it actually have value in the scheme of things? Does it advance robotics, improve automation, or move us closet to the smart factory of the future?

These are reasonable questions, but there’s no simple answer.

We often see Rexroth innovations in academic settings, simulations, or model factories where they can be tested in realistic environments. It’s possible in these situations to see how people will use or misuse the machinery, how different units will work together, and what kinds of opportunities for improvement exist.

But the robot dancing event also accomplished some things.

Breaking a record in the Guinness Book of World Records brings attention to robotics and can help shape attitudes toward automation, including funding for automation.

1,040 robots started the challenge but only 1,007 completed the full minute of synchronized dancing required. Since robots rarely perform tasks en masse in such numbers, this gives unusual insight into the failure rate that can be anticipated.

The biggest technical issue for the stunt was the problem of interference from mobile phones and similar devices. As these devices are increasingly used in factories, this will be an issue to watch.

The kinds of challenges that arise in a stunt of this kind are quite different from those that arise in a packaging plant or printing press. But the questions that come up — and the answers they lead to — can produce valuable changes in the world of industrial automation.

So go ahead and enjoy the Chinese equivalent of Oktoberfest with record-breaking robot dancing. The lessons from this unusual performance may lead to improvements in the industrial motion control available to you in the future.

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