Without robots in today’s factories, you can be pretty sure that production lines are going to be slow and long. Well, having said that, humans and robots work in very different areas at today’s manufacturing plants, where large and automated robots tend to be cordoned off in metal cages, which apart from safety’s sake, is also to make sure that no cheeky human tampers with these huge and complex machines. Julie Shah, the Boeing Career Development Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, claim that there is a possibility down the road for the factory floor to host both humans and robots together, as they help each other in common tasks.
These robotic assistants are meant to perform tasks which might otherwise hinder a human’s efficiency, case in point – the airplane manufacturing industry. Shah adds, “If the robot can provide tools and materials so the person doesn’t have to walk over to pick up parts and walk back to the plane, you can significantly reduce the idle time of the person. It’s really hard to make robots do careful refinishing tasks that people do really well. But providing robotic assistants to do the non-value-added work can actually increase the productivity of the overall factory.”
Do you think this kind of future will eventually arrive? It kinds of reminds me of the first Iron Man movie, as Stark’s robotic arm assistant who gets derided most of the time is able to help him out during crucial moments.