1. 1. There are over 1 million robots in use in industry around the world.
The International Federation of Robotics released a brochure on the history of industrial robots late last year. According to the brochure, as of 2011, there were already 1.1 million industrial robots in use. Compare that to the 800,000 robots in use in 2003, 66,000 in 1983 and 3,000 in 1973, and you can see that these robots aren’t going away.
2. 2. Actually, they aren’t just not going away. They’re here to stay, and they’re invading any way they can.
When the first industrial robot was created over 50 years ago, application was mainly in the automotive manufacturing industry. Now, robots have started to invade our lives in more ways than one. Just look at this graph showing the sales of robots to industry from 2008-2010.
So here’s what this graph show us: The computer you’re using to read this? Possibly made by robots. The pop tart you’re eating? Possibly touched by robots while getting packaged before reaching your mouth. Now if we could only figure out what “Unspecified” means…
4. 3. Robots are starting to look more and more like humans.
What’s scarier than robots possibly taking over the world? Human-like robots possibly taking over the world. And while the world is probably some time away from an “I,Robot”-like disaster, industrial robots are starting to gain more human-like movement. Here you can see an iRobot that uses its leg to almost perfectly simulate human running motion.
Cool? Yes. Potential for creating a robot army that could take over the world? Also yes.
6. 4. Some robots even strongly resemble comic book villains.
Above is the Fingripper, an actual industrial robot used in food processing and manufacturing. Even if you haven’t seen it before, it may look familiar. Why, you ask?
Ah, yes. I knew I had seen those not-at-all creepy claws somewhere before. The likeness of the Fingripper and Dr. Otto Octavius* is uncanny. Lucky for us the Fingripper is used for “pick and place” manufacturing operations (it moves products from one place to the next) and its grasp is actually quite gentle. Looks like the robots aren’t out to hurt us or our favorite superhero…yet.
*(If you want to see Dr. Octavius’ claws in action, you can find him in the previously released motion picture Spider-Man 2.)
8. 5. They’re watching your every move.
Some of the latest robots created for use in manufacturing have vision sensors installed so they are more aware of their surroundings. Creepy? … or innovative? I’m going to go with both. When the robots sense human workers approaching, they slow down to avoid safety concerns. So this actually seems to be a good thing. That being said, I can’t help but freak out when I see robot eyes looking at me.
10. 6. They’re even watching each others’ every move.
Just check out this video of Kiva Systems robots being used for material handling purposes in warehouses and tell me they won’t be taking over the world some day.
As you can see, robot technology has gotten pretty advanced. It’s only a matter of time before we all turn into robots ourselves and Earth is devoid of the human species. Just remember, if someone suspicious tells you “I’ll be back,” run for your life.
(Information taken from the International Federation of Robotics, Industrial Robot Application Trend in World’s Metal Industry by E. Karabegovic, et.al, Developments in robot applications for food manufacturing by Mike Wilson, and Meet Baxter, Factory Worker of the Future by Ashley Taylor.)