Roland Menassa of GE and formerly GM was recently interviewed on his perspective of the future of “new robotics” including collaborative robots like Baxter™ from Rethink Robotics.
Overall, he sees the recently innovations in robotics technology as a huge opportunity for robots to assist employees, and not replace them. Just like how an engineer receives a computer when hired, he sees receiving a collaborative robot as the same for production line workers.
“In the factories of the future, robots will be assistive tools –enabling, supporting, and enhancing the capabilities of highly skilled workers at many concurrent tasks. People will be able to respond rapidly to product line changes based on consumer demands, environmental regulations and changing market conditions, while producing customized, high-quality products.”
He bases these predictions on specific innovations:
- “The first is that the “DNA” of collaborative robots is different. In this new category of robots, the arms are managed through force-control, as opposed to position control. So, they are safe to work alongside humans.”
- “Second, these robots can be trained by colleagues. It’s amazing to watch a line operator show the robot what needs to be done, and then watch the robot do it. This “train by demonstration” may be one of the most compelling selling points.”
- “Finally, we’re seeing robots that can perform much more dexterous operations. I was part of a team that worked with NASA on building Robonaut, and that was a big part of what we were after: force-sensing manipulation. There’s a lot more to come in this space, and it will center on developing robots that perform tasks in the same way humans do.”
Source: Forbes.com | http://www.forbes.com/sites/jimlawton/2015/07/21/ges-roland-menassa-when-robots-help-people-do-their-jobs-better-manufacturing-wins/