How AI Can Improve Industrial Robots in Manufacturing

How AI Can Improve Industrial Robots in Manufacturing

Industrial robots in manufacturing have been in use for many years. AI-enabled robots are being developed to improve industrial robots in manufacturing.

The First Industrial Robot

George Devol is credited with inventing the first industrial robot in 1954. It was a programmable robotic arm that could handle parts up to 500 pounds.

Beginning in the 1960’s, industrial robots began making their way onto factory floors. They were used for high-volume tasks like those in the auto manufacturing industry.

Robots have had incremental improvements over the years due to improved computing power and the development of industrial lasers and sensors. However, these robots still must be programmed and are not very flexible or instinctive.

AI-Enabled Robots

At the core of AI-enabled robots is machine learning. Machine learning is a subfield of AI that gives computers and robots the ability to learn without being programmed. In essence, robots learn to program themselves by using algorithms to search and analyze existing data.

For example, a robot could instinctively know that it now needs to weld aluminum instead of steel and make the appropriate process changes. Perhaps a robot would know that a tap was getting ready to break in a CNC machine and replace the tap. These examples would be improvements in industrial robots.

Related: How Manufacturing Automation Trends May Impact the Job Outlook for Machinists

AI-enabled robots require vast amounts of data and computing power. Ultimately these robots will need to communicate with each other and factory data systems.

Full development and adoption of AI-enabled industrial robots is years away due to complexity and cost. However, a factory completely run by robots may be in our future.

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