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Is the Future of Robotics Modular?

Posted By Sue Pelletier, June 04, 2015 at 7:22 PM, in Category: Manufacturing Automation

Adam Ellison, who founded modular robot maker Modbot, thinks the robotics industry is ripe for disruption. At the Manufacturing Leadership Summit's final afternoon, Ellison drew an analogy between the birth and growth of computers and robots--both started as monolithic, single-use machines. And, just as computers have over time morphed into smaller, more personalized, individualized, and accessible technology, he predicts that robotics also will go a similar route by becoming modular building blocks that can operate together to solve challenges.

In fact, he predicts, robots in the near future will no longer be discrete units, but networks of capability. "Things that are connected grow in value over time," he said. "Hardware alone is not enough anymore. Fortune favors flexibility, and the dangers of not adapting are real," he added.

He ended by quoting William Gibson, author of Neuromancer, who said, "The future is already here — it's just not very evenly distributed."

Do you agree that the future of robots in the manufacturing environment will be a distributed network of units working together, or are there factors that likely will keep manufacturing robotics to the realm of single-purposed systems that stick with doing their jobs in silos?

Written by Sue Pelletier

I am a contributing editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Council's Journal.


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