Mechanical automation in manufacturing is nothing new. Robots have been building cars on the production line for years. But they’re not intelligent machines. In fact, each time a production run changes the robots need to be hauled off and reprogrammed to reflect their new requirements.
Japanese company Fanuc is looking to change all of that.
Thanks to advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, the industrial robotic arms will be built to reprogram themselves by doing. Effectively, by “learning on the job”. What’s even more interesting about this particular concept is that the machines will be linked in order to share information. So, when one robot arms learns something new, and modifies its code accordingly, it will be shared with the other robot arms on the production line (and possibly further afield). This is exciting but it does raise questions from an operational perspective. Because the machines have reprogrammed themselves, it will be rather difficult for humans tasked with overseeing these robots to know exactly what they’re saying to each other…
And this self-learning, hive mind approach to industrial automation is just one more development which actively phases humans out of the equation. As we’ve mentioned before however, automation should be seen as a good thing, because it frees up humans from the drudgery of repetitive work.
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