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    Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

Daiwa Securities America Inc.

Page -30-

NEC then reported that it had developed a factory robot that assembles electronic machinery and appliance parts and components with a speed of 45 centimeters per second and a positioning accuracy of only 8 microns. The high precision and speed has been realized by computerization and by the application of the principle of electronic magnetic repellence, utilizing the linear-motor levitation technology that has been used by the Japanese National Railways in developing the “floating” train. The NEC linear-motor driven robot arm and hand picks up a machine part or component with a maximum load of 2 kilo- grams and carries it around by making it float over the work table. The high precision of movement is achieved by the robots’s set of 16 sensors (visual) supported by a built-in microprocessor. NEC has been producing these assembly robots so far for its own factories and those of affiliated companies and in 1981 NEC plans to manufacture 50 units of these assembly robots.

In June, 1981, Ishikawajima Harima Heavy Industries, a close ally of Toshiba, announced plans to produce its Group Manipulator Module System (GMMS) with an articulated arm with the most advanced parallel circuit-type 16K RAMS in its microprocessor. In October, 1981, the GMMS will be tested (possibly at Toshiba?) and hopefully would be marketed by September, 1982 the latest.

Fujitsu Fanuc has also developed an assembly robot but no details are known except that it is being used at their new Fuji plant. Fujitsu is working closely on robot development with its affiliate.

The heavy emphasis on assembly and sense perception by both the private firms, universities, and public research institutes would seem to indicate the possibility of achieving the goal of popularization of assembly robots by 1985. As will be discussed later, the Japanese consider that the intelligent robot is an important element of export policy for the future.

BUILDING BLOCK SYSTEM (BBS)

The trend to incorporate various models into a single production line and to run these lines at higher speeds created some problems for the conventional universal type spot welding robot. In a mixed-flow production, line robot capacity was not fully and efficiently utilized. Furthermore, it required a large floor space for installation.

After a year of development and design and a half year of testing a new robot, the BBS became operational in May, 1978. The BBS is more compact in size and therefore, lower in cost than the conventional robot. It is a fully articulated multi-welding system wherein one control panel can control simultaneously up to 8 units (48 axes) and a hydraulic unit,

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