#741 – The Great Robot Takeover: Fact or Fiction?Jun 18, 2019
Have you ever wondered, or worried, about a robot invasion? Is it a real thing? A recent post on Industry Week, entitled “The Great Robot Takeover: Fact of Fiction?”, could clear up any confusion on the issue, or perhaps, make it murkier… Following are excerpts from the piece.
The Great Robot Takeover: Fact or Fiction?
John Hitch | June 7, 2019
…in Japan, businesses (and consumers) embraced robots of every kind, which Mark Jagiela saw firsthand as general manager of (automation and test equipment manufacturer) Teradyne’s Japan division.
“In the 1980s, Japan was viewed as the biggest threat to U.S. industry because of the leadership they had in automating automotive manufacturing and semiconductors,” he notes.
Now the typical U.S. factory is fighting a war on two new fronts: One with time, specifically the aging workforce running out of it; the other with interest, which is totally lacking from the potential reinforcements due to the repetitive, boring nature of the jobs.
Jagiela, who became president of Teradyne in 2013 and CEO the following year, is seeking to broker a peace between Americans and automatons by marshalling a new legion of automated workers called collaborative robots, or cobots. Defined by safety features such as padded surfaces, limited speed, and force-torque sensors to prevent pinching and crushing, cobots are finding employment in factories and job shops of every size, as well as hospitals, homes, and everywhere in between.
According to the Robotic Industries Association, cobots, which accounted for an estimated 3% of all robot sales—or 11,416 in 2017—are expected to capture 34% of that market in the next seven years.
In May U.S. unemployment hit 3.6%, the lowest since 1969. Japan has a 2.5% unemployment rate and its robot takeover happened three decades ago.
“Despite all this fearmongering and sensationalism, it’s just not happening,” he says. “And I don’t think it will be. All the evidence suggests that historically it’s been a tremendous benefit to job growth.”
Robots aren’t just going to be in factories in the next decade, but also hospital floors delivering drugs or moving patients, in homes assisting the elderly or disabled, and hopefully doing yardwork. They are going to be everywhere, and we need to prepare.
So, the real story from here needs to be how to create the skilled workers to install, run and maintain these robots, and how to responsibly transition the people replaced by automation to new jobs.