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130 . Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

Mitchell Hutchins Inc.

The logical evolution of the factory of the future company is one which can put together the

sophisticated trollers and,

systems largely involving computer technologies,

electronics and software,

of course,

robots.

The

requirement

for

the

various

technical

disciplines,

con- the

high development costs and financial and marketing skills suggest that these companies will tend to be quite large in nature, with suppliers of industrial pieces of equipment occupying a small niche in the broad spectrum market for the automated factory.

Robot Production: Generalists With A Niche for Specialists

The potential widespread use of robots suggests that the industry will continue to segment in various ways:

Work envelope and load capacity applications have often been the determinant

of market segmentation by lift capacity:

1.

Extremely heavyweight applications

(lift capability in excess of 350 lbs.)

2.

Heavy applications, including spot

welding resulting in lift capacity between

50 and 350 lbs.

3.

Medium

to

low

weight

applications

requiring

lift

capacity

of

less

than

50

lbs.

Small parts, pick and place and assembly-requirements led to the development of the

market for robots with lift capacity of less than five pounds. for market development was the realization that upwards of 90% average automobile weighed less than three pounds.

The driving

force

of the parts

of the

.

Segmentation by process applications, including painting, arc welding.

spraying and coating and

An analysis of these market segments suggested that a family of general purpose robots with a choice of drive mechanism, lift capacity and wrist configuration could be produced, with the

intelligence of the robot (electronics

for

a

specific

application.

While

the

and software) used to major robot producers

small market nich primarily because of

has the

also developed for a dedicated system, intricacies of coating technology.

tailor the general purpose robot have adopted this approach, a particularly in paint spraying, We believe it is likely for this

generalist approach to pervade in the industry, of unique process technologies.

with some specialized niches developing because

R&D: A Crucial Investment

For robots to be useful across a wider breadth of markets in the future,

they must be able to

adjust automatically to alternative production reorienting and manipulating disordered parts. this adaptive ability would be essential.

set-ups and have the capability of recognizing For many assembly and installation procedures,

The key to the wide market expansion, we believe, areas of technology:

lies in the breakthrough in at least two

Sensory capabilities,

including:

  • 1.

    Force with application in fitting operations.

  • 2.

    Tactile with application in both positioning and orienting.

  • 3.

    Vision with application in positioning, inspection and monitoring.

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