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4.

Ch. I—introduction

Workshop Goals

The workshop had several goals:

assess the current and likely future state of robotics technology; examine the structure of the robotics market, including domestic and foreign users and producers; determine how robotics relates to other manufacturing technologies such as computer-aided design and flexible manufacturing systems; and determine whether significant Federal policy issues were likely to be raised by

the expected growth in robotics.

industrial

General agreement was found on the fol- lowing points:

  • the use of robots for industrial automa- tion is growing rapidly; robots are likely to be heavily used by the end of the

decade in many settings;

  • robotics, while perhaps the most visible and dramatic one, exists in a wide spec- trum of technologies that contribute to the automation of manufacturing;

  • any major impacts on productivity and employment within this decade will be attributable to the general trend toward automation (including robotics), compu- ter-aided design, the use of information systems to control operations and sup- port managements, and the integration of all these technologies into flexible manufacturing systems; and

  • robots, themselves, may have important impacts in the long run as they evolve toward intelligent, stand-alone devices that can perform a variety of complex tasks, and thereby substantially broad- en their range of potential application.

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