Considerations on the future of work always concern the future of man, too. The hypothesis that humans are making themselves obsolete by developing smart robots is the subject of controversial debate. The fact is that the way we work has always been subject to incessant change. Also, humans and robots have successfully cooperated for quite some time now: The democratization of robotics, i.e. the further development towards simple operation using “drag and drop” and programming without code, holds great potential and enables easy access to robotics – for companies of all sizes.
Human-robot collaborations are nothing new, but they are taking on a new dimension – with greatly increased significance in Industry 4.0 environments. Intelligent assistance systems take the interaction between human and technology in automated production to the next level and are attractive to small and medium-sized companies as well. Because robots – unlike specialized machinery – can be reprogrammed at any time, allowing them to be “converted” to suit any current production requirement in no time. It’s flexibility enabling greater efficiency.
Assistive AI is expected to unfold particularly great potential in inspection activities such as quality assurance. For example, algorithms can detect faults in the respective workpiece using photos taken by smartphones and pass appropriate instructions to the relevant employee to take action.
Similarly, assistance systems can also design or support work steps naturally and intuitively. Examples include gesture-controlled robot programming or the enablement of employees to set up their own tools. Systems for instruction, error prevention and enablement thus also facilitate the employment of differently qualified people – which is an important point considering the shortage of skilled workers.
The increasingly simple operability (“drag and drop” and “no code robotics”) also causes the democratization of robotics to gain momentum – especially as “low-cost robotics” open up additional fields of application for SMEs and other industries.
automatica is an opportunity to learn how future-oriented production processes that are flexible in terms of both location and tasks can be designed using autonomous and easy-to-use robots – bionic adhesive properties of robot grippers or wearables and exoskeletons are just a few examples of revolutionary developments in this field.
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