Robotic technology combined with artificial intelligence (AI)-powered applications are working together to help policymakers, manufacturers, and key industry stakeholders manage and even reduce their carbon footprints. In fact, according to PwC and Microsoft, AI is projected to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions by four per cent in 2030, which is equivalent to 2.4 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions.
Industrial robots are all around us; they produce the goods we consume and the vehicles we drive. To many, these technologies are often viewed as simplistic in nature. After all, while they are uniquely capable of producing products quickly and at a high level of quality, they operate within a limited range of motions. So just how much really goes into programming an industrial robot?
The beginning of this, the third decade of the new millennium, may have started out rather bleak, but it does not mean that things like innovation or advances in technology have come to a grinding halt. In fact, quite the opposite is true. As we find ourselves in the midst of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (more commonly referred to as Industry 4.0) the adoption of automated machinery in the manufacturing sector shows no indication of slowing down.
As the field of robotics grows ever more sophisticated, a greater number of technicians are required to lend their talents to design, program, and maintain robots and robotic systems. Not surprisingly, the complexity of these machines and systems has spawned five specialized areas within the field of robotics:
In today’s world, our lives are changing. From the way we interact with the environment, our friends and family, and even in the workplace. While the measures put into place due to Covid-19 are temporary, the pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on our lives.
The image we carry in our minds about what robotics and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are is usually polarized. For many people, what we think of robots is likely influenced by popular culture; movies, books or comics. Many people imagine robots like Star Wars droids or Pixar’s Wall-E or at the other end of the spectrum something like the humanoid AI-enabled robot virtually indistinguishable from humans from the movie Ex-Machina. Some tend to underestimate their capabilities and consider them fancy gadgets.
For decades, robots and sophisticated automation and control systems were relegated to the likes of large manufacturers, such as Boeing, GM and Procter & Gamble.
The beginnings of automation brought both ripples and tidal waves of change throughout the manufacturing industry over the past few decades. As the world enters into a fourth industrial age – one characterized by ubiquitous digitization and connectivity – many trade workers have expressed their fear of further automation, especially given recent reports of widespread job losses that continue to perpetuate this fear. However, automation could actually be a big upside for employee growth, especially for those who wield the right skills.
The world has experienced a few industrial revolutions, the latest of which is being called ‘Industry 4.0’. It encompasses recent trends of industrial automation, as well as the use and creation of Big Data. One of the most interesting changes to Industry 4.0 is the growing development and use of industrial robots.
Real-world robots are still very clumsy but this is changing fast.
As more self-driving cars hit the streets, there will also be more self-driving vehicles on factory floors. According to a 2018 study from PwC and The Manufacturing Institute, 9 percent of manufacturers use semi-autonomous or autonomous vehicles within their operations today; this number is expected to climb up to 20 percent in the next three years.
The US has revolutionized the manufacturing industry with its numerous contributions, such as introducing the assembly line. But in today’s industries, it’s falling behind. Robotic technology for automation continues to develop at a rapid pace—and the US manufacturing industry needs to catch up. Here are five reasons why US manufacturers need to invest in automation more than ever.
The world of manufacturing is drastically changing. New technologies are leading to what analysts describe as the fourth industrial revolution, otherwise known as Industry 4.0, a term that was introduced at the Hannover Fair in 2012 by German workers. The fourth industrial revolution is marked by the introduction of disruptive technologies, where machines and robots can make decisions and perform tasks on their own without human intervention in an autonomous system.
Voice controlled speakers such as Amazon Echo and Google Home are currently the biggest voice assistants in the market, and are part of the household trend in smart home devices. These smart devices enable people to retrieve information, dim their lights, or play music tracks by speaking their wishes.
With the most recent advancements in voice-controlled technology and robotics, these devices will soon be performing other tasks that are more labour intensive—such as doing your housework.
As companies such as Tesla and Uber continue to make progress in their plans to take over the automation industry with unmanned vehicles, we're living in a world where everything is becoming more automated. For instance, although trains have been semi-automated since the 1960s, recent technological developments have led to driverless train, as seen in Kobe, Japan and Lille, France.
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There are many countries around the world experiencing an aging and declining population and low birth rate. Its expected that these countries will increasingly rely on technology and automation to complete tasks which were once done by people. This is especially true when looking at the medial care sector. With an aging population and fewer numbers in the younger generations there is an expected strain on personnel, which a few countries are already experiencing.
When we think of robots and automation, we often think of Japan and the US: highly advanced societies with a huge amount of focus on technological solutions to problems. And it’s true that the presence of robots in Japan – and increasingly so in the US as well – is ubiquitous and growing fast as the manufacturing world moves ever onward to greater automation. However, other countries aren’t far behind, and there’s a possibility that the next big user and consumer of robotic technology might not be the US or Japan at all, but Mexico.
Robots on the Rise
Robots are continuing their unstoppable march into previously unheard-of sectors. Why should the restaurant industry be any exception?
A completely automated kitchen might sound like something straight out of science fiction, but it’s actually closer to reality than you might think. Last July, the German-developed BratWurst Bot served, cooked, and took orders for over 200 meals to guests at a garden party, many of whom were surprised to learn that robots were capable of such tasks.
Milk production on dairy farms has used large amounts of automation for many decades, and cheese production is poised to follow suit. For decades, many industries have turned to automation to boost productivity, and the food processing industry is joining the fold. The use of robots makes food supplies and factories safer by reducing the potential for human error and the spread of diseases.
Modern Automation in the Cheese and Dairy Industry
Satellites traveling in geosynchronous orbit around the earth are tasked with performing some of society’s most important services – everything from maintaining the integrity of the global telecommunications network to the monitoring of weather systems and the environment.
Programmable logic controllers, or PLCs, have long been considered as one of the pillars of the modern manufacturing era, unobtrusively executing the ladder-logic instructions necessary in industrial automated processes. While versatile, PLCs rarely work alone; things like servos, robotics, testing equipment, and vision systems can all commonly be found working in conjunction with PLCs in the manufacture of goods.
When you think about all the complicated and dangerous tasks society could be using robots for in the not too distant future, what comes to mind? Will robots be used to pioneer deep space exploration to spare the fragile human body from the dangers of a frozen, irradiated void? Will robots replace human workers for things like search and rescue, fighting fires, or operating the oil platforms located in the middle of Earth’s most tumultuous seas?
Robots have been used in medicine since 2000 when the FDA first approved the da Vinci Surgical System. Sixteen years and 20,000 surgeries later, the concept of a robot performing surgery is not nearly as far-fetched as it seemed at the beginning of the century. Now the da Vinci system, and many others like it, perform surgeries every single day – and yet we are still only at the very beginning of the age of healthcare robotics.
In 2013, Amazon made headlines by announcing their plan for a drone delivery system. Although seemingly an amazing advance, the truth is that drone technology has come on in leaps and bounds over the last decade or so, and it was only a matter of time before someone decided to deploy them commercially. It’s a logical step: Amazon wants to stay ahead of the game and ensure that its reputation for fast, secure delivery isn’t compromised or overtaken by its competitors. Why not do something that nobody else was even thinking of?
Robots have often been thought of as the stuff of science fiction, but the truth is that robotic technology is quickly advancing and is becoming more and more useful in various situations. Already ubiquitous in manufacturing plants, robots are also becoming widely used for such applications as defusing explosives, remote surgery, and as companions for the elderly, particularly in Japan. But it is in disaster relief that the potential of robotic devices is really coming to the fore.