Robotics and Automation
Well designed and well managed robotic automation
improves production speed, product quality and consistency. In some setting, safety is improved and health care costs are reduced. Non-stop work is performed
with precision and repeatability. The waste of the materials of construction is usually reduced substantially.
Currently, the initial investment is high and the cost of
maintenence, though moderate, needs to be taken into account.
The need to employ computer programmers and mechanics
in place of traditional production workers has been a consideration of sizable political dimensions. The resultant improvement in productivity is being weighed
against a greatly-feared threat to existing jobs.
We need to finally work on preparing the next generation
of factory workers for the much-delayed robotic manufacturing revolution. We need to teach children to expect a world filled with automation. A person
growing up today cannot expect to find a job as a laborer. Many types of jobs are disappearing.
The cost of robots will continue to fall, and this reduction
in cost will be accelerated by the use of robots to make newer robots. The cost of robots will be reduced further by a style of robotics called
. This design method achieves high precision in the behavior of a robot despite
low precision in the manufacturing of parts used to make that robot. A machine made of crude mechanical parts can perform with great precision by utilizing
closed-loop control. Inexpensive mechanics together with ever less expansive electronics and computing will drive the cost of production downward
dramatically. Education in math and programming will be essential to obtaining a good manufacturing job in the near future.
There are, however, two ways that robotic development
can proceed. The first of these is the current state of the industry, which keeps the cost of robotic automation very high and stresses custom consulting and
engineering services. The second way, while preferable and inevitable, has been delayed since 1970 and may be delayed for several more decades. This
development would stress low cost, wide distribution of ease of implementation. Such a development would spur entrepreneurship and innovation on a
massive scale. When a robotic device can be purchased for a few hundred dollars (in today's money) and be used to earn additional income, the economic
benefits to the nation will multiply and the liberty enjoyed by individuals will be markedly enhanced.
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