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Engineering Materials
Self-Assembled Devices May Transform Manufacturing
4/3/2013

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The SuperBot is a set of robotic modules that form and reform linear or solid shapes, such as this walking humanoid form. Developed for possible use by NASA in planetary exploration, SuperBot can walk, crawl, climb, and carry things depending on its form.
The SuperBot is a set of robotic modules that form and reform linear or solid shapes, such as this walking humanoid form. Developed for possible use by NASA in planetary exploration, SuperBot can walk, crawl, climb, and carry things depending on its form.

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Ann R. Thryft
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Re: The future is going to be very different
Ann R. Thryft   4/3/2013 5:28:31 PM
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Chuck, I had the same hit about Terminator 2. There's also the Transformers, and I did a news story on a very expensive, very sophisticated, 'toy" version
http://www.designnews.com/document.asp?doc_id=256018

apresher
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Self-Assembled Devices
apresher   4/3/2013 5:33:12 PM
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Ann,  Thanks for the information on markets they are targeting. Those consumer applications make more sense than other more established uses.

apresher
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Self-Assembled Devices
apresher   4/3/2013 5:33:13 PM
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Ann,  Thanks for the information on markets they are targeting. Those consumer applications make more sense than other more established uses.

Rob Spiegel
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Re: A challenge to China labor
Rob Spiegel   4/3/2013 5:33:37 PM
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Hey, Dave,

 

Good points. However, the additional profits may not go to more jobs. It may go to more robots.

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A challenge to China labor
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2013 12:04:01 PM
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Rob, I think those are good, and accurate, observations about the differences between automation in the past and robots now. Robots are, in one sense, Factory Automation 2.0. The industry has already gone through all the 101/1.0 pain--poor implementation and poorly designed apps, since it was all new--and learned a lot of lessons. Plus. there are many, many companies who would like to replace human workers with robots.



Ann R. Thryft
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Re: Self-Assembled Devices
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2013 12:04:40 PM
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Al, I think you're right about the consumer apps, at least in the  beginning. But these technologies will be capable of making--and re-making!--a lot of other stuff. I know it's hard to imagine--I felt like my brain went through a painful re-orientation during the reporting of this article--but I really think it's possible, even likely.



GTOlover
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Re: A challenge to China labor
GTOlover   4/4/2013 12:09:38 PM
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I would add that the company is not a closed economic system. Those new jobs are usually a higher skill set than the workers displaced by the robots (maintenance, engineering, and programmers). Some companies 'invest' in re-training, others hire replacements that either paid for their own skills upgrade or got the taxpayer to pick up the tab. The point being, job growth of a company upgrading productivity by automation does displace lower skilled labor but enhances job growth for higher skilled workers.

So in a sense, Ann is correct that blue collar workforce is endangered by robots. If China loses work to robots, what will the billions of workers do?

Ann R. Thryft
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Re: A challenge to China labor
Ann R. Thryft   4/4/2013 8:07:03 PM
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Thanks, GTOlover. That's the point I was trying to make: what happens when low-skilled jobs are replaced by higher-skilled jobs? This sounds great--until you wonder what happens to the displaced workers. Once upon a time, there were a lot more low-skilled workers than high-skilled ones. I'd like to know what the proportions are today, in the US and elsewhere. The raw numbers in China must be huge.

Cabe Atwell
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Re: A challenge to China labor
Cabe Atwell   4/5/2013 2:19:13 AM
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As fantastic as this is, I would like to see this tech integrated into robotic toys. True "transformers," a childhood dream is almost fulfilled.

C

Rob Spiegel
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Re: A challenge to China labor
Rob Spiegel   4/5/2013 10:23:23 AM
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Yes, Ann, and it will be interesting to see the future of robots. Apparently they are paying for themselves, since implementations dont get very far in factory automation without a clear ROI. It will be interesting to see who implements the new wave of robots. I'll put my money on the suppliers in auto and aerospace.

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