After Robotics - What Next?
To many, robotics may appear to be a next generation anomaly, with frighteningly lifelike images of The Terminator and I-Robot featuring only on the silver screen. The fact of the matter is robots have been part and parcel of innovative industrial engineering solutions since the 1960’s, when General Motors first introduced its rather primitive Unimate robot to the assembly line.
Notwithstanding technological and scientific advancements, particularly in the field of Information Technology; the science of robots, or robotic engineering, has remained static.
Machine design and tool making integrated with IT
Over the past 40 years the only real advancements in intelligent manufacturing processes have concentrated on the integration of machine design and tool making with computers and computer software as is evident with CNC machines, computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and automated handling equipment.
Although awesome machines with distinctly humanoid characteristics have been designed and built by mechanical, electrical and computer engineers, none of them have reached their full potential simply because they are so incredibly difficult to teach.
Despite the design sophistication of these ‘metallic beasts’, it still takes a specialist technician to program their every move down to the finest detail. The biggest challenge in the future will undoubtedly have to be made by software engineers who will have to conceptualise artificial intelligence that works.
Advanced robotics and intelligent automation
The next big thing after robotics is simply advanced robotics and intelligent automation where software engineers will have to brainstorm design strategies that will give robots the capabilities of mobility and autonomy, thereby enabling them to physically interact with the environment, achieve tasks without having to be fully pre-programmed with a precise set of actions and to perform tasks intimately with humans.
This, in turn, will enable manufacturers to respond to market challenges in a more streamlined and cost effective way. The aim of next generation robotics and intelligent automation systems is to provide unique levels of accuracy, precision, speed, agility and flexibility in the production process, affording manufactures with enhanced competitiveness and profitability.
Brain computer interface
Expert robotic engineers are currently working on technologies capable of controlling a robot directly from the human mind. Brain Computer Interface (BCI) is already experiencing success in the medical field where it is used to restore or repair lost sight and hearing as well as human cognitive and sensory-motor functions.
If manufactures are to remain competitive in our fast changing world, they will need to embrace advanced robotics and intelligent automation systems into their production processes. The good news is industrial engineers, together with mechanical, software, computer and electrical engineers, are on top of the challenge and are working hard to create a robot that has the capability of human intelligence!
Optimise your manufacturing process with advanced solutions
To optimise your manufacturing process in the plastic production industry contact specialist industrial engineers, Hans von der Heyde, who will conceptualise, design and implement new generation automation solutions, machine design and tool making that will give you the competitive edge!