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App. B—Commissioned Background Papers . 77

operation ductivity

to have a

of

the

significant impact on the

nation's

economy

before

overall

the

turn

of

pro-

the

century.

(Of course,

there

pact

of

robots

will be some specific areas

will

be

large.

In

areas

where

like

the

im-

automobile

spot-welding, robots mid 1980’s there may

have be a

already had significant

some

effect.

By

the

effect on productivity

in arc welding. Arc welding is a hot,

dirty, unpleasant job where the welder

must

wear

heavy

protective

clothing and must work in the

presence cally a than 30%

of a shower of hot sparks and choking smoke.

Typi-

human welder of the time.

cannot keep his A robot welder,

torch on the work more on the other hand can

keep

its

torch

on

the work about 90% of the time.

even though

the

robot cannot

weld any faster

it can turn

out

about 3 times

as much work.

than

a

Thus, human,

Unfortunately, present

work.

That

requires

a

day robots cannot set up

human

assistant.

So

this

their reduces

own the

advantage.

Also, the

the welding

task.

robot must be

programmed

Typically this

takes much

productivity to perform

longer Thus, of the

than would be required to actually

perform

a

weld.

unless

the robot

same

welding

task

is used to perform many repetitions there is no productivity gain.

Of course, once robots become intelligent enough to assemble

and

set

up

their

own

work,

productivity

will

improve.

Once

robots become

out

where

to

clever enough to look at the put the weld, productivity

job will

and figure improve even

more.

Eventually,

phisticated

to

work

welding robots will be

from

plans

stored

in

sufficiently

computer

memory

so- and

to correct errors which may occur

during

robots shifts

will

then be able to work nights

per

week)

completely

without

human

that many are

point productivity improvements over

hundreds a long

of percent become possible.

way

from

that

today.

There

a job. Welding and weekends (four supervision. At present methods of Unfortunately, we are many difficult

research and

Unless

the

development problems

level

of

effort

in

that must be solved first. software development is in-

creased many fold, for many years.

these improvements will not be

realized

Let’s look at another industry, the metal cutting

industry,

where robots machine tools.

are

This

already

being

is

a

relatively

used

to load

simple

task,

and unload so long as

the parts are presented to the robot in a known position and

orientation. capabilities

During the 1980’s, will improve to the

robot point

sensory and where robots

control can find

and out

load of

unoriented parts,

a

bin

filled

with

or in some cases, even pick parts

randomly

oriented

parts

lying

on

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