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78 .

Exploratory Workshop on the Social Impacts of Robotics

This

may improve

because

it will make

top of each other.

dreds

of

percent

productivity by hun- it possible to install

robots

in

many exisiting

plants

without

major

re-engineering

of production

methods.

machine shops a

single

For example, in machinist could

conventional N/C

set

up

several

machines which could then run for extended periods unattend-

ed. and

In some cases robot tended machines may on weekends without human intervention.

ru

n

overnight

By

1990

robots

may

begin

to

have

a

significant

impact

on

mechanical

assembly.

research results

effort spent on

have

not

been

There

has

been

robot assembly. spectacular--yet

.

a great deal of Unfortunately/ the On the one hand,

robots cannot compete with classical so-called “hard automa-

tion” in assembly of mass produced parts. machines like robots are still too slow and

General purpose too expensive to

be economical for mass other hand, robots cannot

production assembly

yet

compete

with

tasks. human

On the assembly

lot assembly.

Humans are

as well as fast,

skilled,

A

human

has

robots.

workers in small

to

able,

dexterous,

cheap

compared

incredibly adapt- and relatively two hands and ten

fingers with arms,

and shoulders

form

equipped

with

a

total

of

mounted on 58 degrees

a of

mobile freedom

.

plat- The

human has a fantastically sophisticated

vision

system

and

can be easily.

programmed to perform a wide Even in a relatively routine

variety of tasks quite

task

such

as

the

as–

sembly

of

an

automobile alternator (performed at the C.S.

Draper Lab, Cambridge, robot assembly would cally even after every

MA), test results indicated that be only marginally effective economi- phase of the task had been optimized.

Nevertheless, progress is being made and Robot capabilities will gradually increase.

will continue. Sensory systems

will become more sophisticated and less expensive.

The cost

of no

computing hardware is sign of bottoming out.

dropping rapidly

and

steadily with

Software costs

are

likely to be

the major impediment to robot development for able future, but even these are slowly yielding niques of structured programming and high level

the foresee- to the tech- languages.

Eventually,

extremely

fast

accurate,

dexterous

robots

will

be

programmed

using

design

describe

the

guration

of

shape of the parts the assemblies to

graphics data to be made and be constructed.

bases which the confi- Eventually,

robots cues,

will be able

to

learn

by

optimization.

Such

to respond experience skills can

to a wide variety of and to acquire skills

then

be

transferred

to

sensory by self

other

robots so that learning the robot labor force.

can

be

propagated

rapidly

throughout

During tion

the 1990’s robots will probably

trades.

Under

the

tutelage

enter of a

the

construc–

human

master-

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