Robotics and artificial intelligence

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This is the use of computer systems to control industrial machinery or processes.

IMPACT: this vastly reduces need for human operators which brings advantages and disadvantages.

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Robots in automated manufacturing systems

  • robots are widely used in manufacture for automated production and assembly tasks. This is a Big advantage to supporting flexible production. 
  • A robot is a re-programmable device designed to both manipulate and transport parts through variable programmed motions for the performance of specific manufacturing tasks.

 Japan is the world leader on robots and developments are occurring every day. They widen the definition by adding arms controlled directly by humans which have a wide range of possible future applications.

Levels of complexity of manufacturing tasks for robots

1) simple robots using jigs to position components/tools for better accuracy

2) jobs requiring sensory feedback in order to modify the program to account for variation in the components

3) jobs requiring complex sensory capabilities, such as pattern recognition, to make complex decisions

4) applications with unpredictable behaviour of components or equipment in a manufacturing cell

Difficulty of tasks increases down the list.

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Advantages & disadvantages of robots in manufactur


  • Do the monotonous, mundane and repetitive jobs requiring extreme precision 
  • Can maintain high precision on repeat processes. High quality, they have inspection sensors! 
  • Cost effective as can increase productivity 
  • Do not tire like humans- can work 24/7 
  • Can work with heavy load/ in dangerous situations 
  • Flexible- just reprogram 
  • Can be programmed once and repeat the same task for years


- Different programming languages so not all brands can communicate with one another . Difficult to program some tasks

- Human senses currently wider- touch, hearing, vision and recognition .

- Humans cannot work in same as robots for safety reasons .

- Expensive set up and maintenance costs.

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Artificial Intelligence

Is still developing but the aim is to produce - A machine that exhibits human intelligence and behaviour - That can learn and adapt through experience and consciousness. 

Expert systems

  • Computers that can process large amounts of information and make decisions. 
  • Based on ‘Logic Systems’- calculates data to make most sensible decision. 
  • Exciting developments- combining logic systems with ‘voice recognition systems’ could mean designers/manufactures could talk to their machines. They could even function as co-workers

Autonomous Robots

 Aim is to enable robots to learn the skills needed for any particular environment rather than programming them for a specific task. Intelligent machine vision systems are key, as cameras require robots to see by individual pixels, and develop conclusions using expert systems.

Can ‘feel’ objects like humans;    A typical robot arm allows six degrees of freedom. A human type hand has over 20 degrees of movement.    

Autonomous robots can be linked to AI systems to interpret information from the robots sensors so they can operate in a dynamic environment with minimal human interference.  

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