A new wave of automation is building, and it will affect (almost) everything. The convergence of better sensors, actuators, computation, and algorithms has reached a crucial threshold, bringing advanced robotics out of the lab and driving significant industry investment into these new technologies. Combined with increased global competition and cost reduction pressure, it is driving the start of the “Automation Age,” the most influential period of technological advancement since the invention of the steam engine.

Automation is an ideal tool for performing the dull, dirty, and dangerous—shifting humans to greater value-adding activities. New technologies like advanced sensing and flexible manipulation are making robots safer and more efficient in interacting with humans. Meanwhile, interoperability and resource optimization are preparing workplaces for close collaboration of humans and robots as well as lights-out automation.

New advanced robotics offers safety through advanced sensing. The same advanced sensing that gives a robot its autonomous capabilities can first be used for basic safety monitoring aboard equipment already used by human operators.  With advanced sensing, mobility, manipulation, interoperability, and resource optimization, robots can take on more activities traditionally performed by humans–such as dull, dirty, and dangerous work—shifting humans to greater value-adding activities.

Read more by Daniel Theobald, InTech Magazine, Jul-Aug 2015

Mobile robots break traditions