Do Industrial Robots Need to Adapt?

Humans are great at adjusting and rolling with the punches. If someone tells us “Blue is red”, we just say “No it isn’t” and go about our day. If our hands are full and we need to open a door, we put something in a pocket, figure out a fancy new way to hold something with our teeth or under our arm, set something down, or ask a buddy to help us out — we problem solve. It’s a different story with robots, however.

Machines just stop when they encounter contradictions or nonsensical commands. They can’t adapt or logic their way through something that literally does not make sense. They also can’t solve problems that they haven’t been programmed to solve. Adaptive robots might be good for exploration or sophisticated AI systems, but are adaptive robots really necessary for industrial applications? Do industrial robots need to be able to adapt?

Do we need adaptive industrial robots?

There’s certainly a need for adaptive robots, but we probably don’t need factory robots that can adjust, problem solve, accomplish new tasks, and adapt on the fly.

Manufacturing, packaging, printing, shipping, distribution, etc. rely on the things that machines are good at: reliability, precision, accuracy, performing tasks the exact same way without variation. They excel at moving objects to defined positions quickly, efficiently, and accurately. We depend on them for heavy lifting, working in dangerous environments, and improving working conditions for humans.

There’s a place for adaptive robots in factories, but they can’t replace traditional factory robots. For example, collaborative robots should adapt. These robots need to be versatile and safe; they’re also not doing the heavy lifting in manufacturing and industrial automation.

Creating adaptive industrial robots would mean watering down the very things that make industrial robots indispensable in modern manufacturing. We don’t want industrial robots adapting, expressing themselves, or making unexpected decisions. We need factory robots to work fast, reliably, and without surprises.

Make sure that your factory machines don’t surprise you. Routine maintenance and inspection can help prevent unscheduled downtime. Sometimes there’s nothing that you can do to prevent downtime. We’re here to help either way. Call 479-422-0390 for preventive maintenance and inspection, or for emergency support for your Indramat industrial motion control system.