Clinton, thanks for your feedback, especially the point about the focus on ROI above all else. And I completely agree about the sense of wonder. That's one of my husband's favorite phrases: he uses it to describe what he likes about great science fiction, like Dune, or Star Trek when it was new, or Simmons' Endymion series.
Yes, you're probably right, but I did see a story about someone who created this whole art piece by using a robotic arm...I can't remember if I did a story on it or not. I'll dig up the link. Or maybe you covered it? It was quite cool!
Rob, from the comments Festo makes in that brochure, I think the application is quite clear in their minds and the minds of their customers: independent autonomous robots whizzing around the plant, making their own decisions and networked via wireless comms technology. But who knows what else this little guy could do?
AnandY, you're welcome. I've seen photos and videos of hundreds of robots that were designed using biomimicry, and most of them are pretty clunky. Festo's machines don't even look or move like machines, if you ask me.
Yes, Greg, you're right, industrial robots certainly aren't very sexy. But they seem to be heading in a more attractive direction as well. I'm thinking of Baxter from Rethink Robots, which may not exactly look like a work of art, but is certainly easier on the eyes than traditional industrial robots.
I agree Liz, There is a perception that robots need to be intelligent and glamorous. Of course there is a big difference between industrial robots and humanlike robots. When they start looking and talking like Ginger from Gilligans Island, then I will want to get one. Industrial robots have less intelligence and looks than an automatic tranmission (unless you spend a fortune on software, sensors, barcode readers, and vision systems) and they will perform the same repetetive task millions of times without failure - but you will still have to look at all those wires...