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Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Workplace Robots Need a Better View

Technology Review
May 11, 2011

A coming wave of industrial robots will be smart enough to work safely alongside humans in many different settings, says Rodney Brooks, a professor emeritus of robotics at MIT and a founder of iRobot.

Industrial robots have evolved little since the first ones appeared in General Motors factories about 50 years ago, Brooks says. Most workplace robots—such as those used in car manufacturing are designed to perform simple, repetitive tasks. And they lack the sensory smarts to work safely alongside humans.

"I think there's room for a real revolution by putting sensors and computation into industrial robots," says Brooks. "What if the robots were smarter and they could go into smaller companies and be easier for ordinary people to use?"

If manufacturing robots could recognize their human coworkers and interact with them safely Brooks says they could be used in many more manufacturing environments, assisting with repetitive and physically demanding manual tasks.
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