Work of the future - training robots to interact with people


    Decades of science fiction films have taught people to be afraid of robots : they will enslave us, wipe us off the face of the Earth, take away our jobs . In real life, people and machines learn to do together more than they could individually do. Below are six companies where robot training is in full swing and people are gaining valuable technology skills.


    The robot learns to draw

    In the new short film "In Love with Artoo", the famous Star Wars droid is going crazy in a domed mailbox. The film, written and directed by Autodesk engineer Evan Atherton, recalls the scene in which lovers pose for a sketch that a robot draws. Not agreeing to fakes, Atherton asked his Autodesk colleague, David Thomasson, if it was possible to teach the robot how to actually draw sketches. Why not? They trained the robot to draw online first, directing his hand across the canvas, and eventually his algorithm was able to take the process upon itself. Now the team is teaching the robot to draw and will use motion capture technology so that it can simulate and adapt human actions in order to create more original works. The hope, says Tomasson, is that robots will not only be a "practical tool,


    Fast and harmonious training

    One of the Raytheon robots, Tucson's

    Raytheon factory in Tucson has an area of ​​14,300 square meters, and it is full of robots and people working together. Raytheon does not build its robots: the company buys them and installs a common software interface to make it easier to train and reprogram them. When a robot needs to be taught something, the task is first modeled using Raytheon software, and then the robot is installed for initial testing. The whole process, according to cameraman Charles Scott, can take from several hours to 1 day. After that, the software model is updated and installed by robots that are already in use.
    These are ordinary robots, but the guys made them solution-oriented for our products, which are very complex, ”said Kim Ernzen, vice president of operations.


    Tricks are productivity

    Baxter Robot with Nate Kunz

    Engineer Nate Kunz is the Baxter Robotics Trainer at Rethink . As a rule, he begins the process by studying photographs or illustrating the task that the client (among customers — John Deri and Kaiser Permanente) wants to automate long before installing Baxter on the assembly line. The total training time can take from several hours to a month, depending on the complexity. Rethinking the task often leads to teaching Baxter new tricks, such as working as a bartender or playing Connect Four. Games can lead to new ideas for software. One such decision came from an employee who trained Baxter to make coffee. As a result, the process is used to control the quality of beverage production. Baxter was trained to mix the drink, study its sediment and pour it in the same way as it was taught in making coffee.


    Approaching Robotics

    Robot works hard at the company’s plant in Orion

    Some unlucky people at the GM plant in Orion, Michigan, had boring hard work: they removed the spare tires from the assembly line and packed them, depending on which vehicle they were intended for. Not surprisingly, the first collaborative robot, which appeared at the factory in January, was tasked with folding tires. The most difficult thing was to teach him to maneuver in a crowded work area, where people, as a rule, are less than a meter apart. “Manufacturing is a contact sport,” says GM engineer Marty Lynn. GM abandoned the sensitivity of robotic force sensors and went through many rehearsals using real details and people. People had to learn how to work with a robot, survive the "information week" of testing.


    Performs welding work no worse than the man

    Bill Zachner and his robot.

    Architects worldwide contact A. Zahner Co. from Kansas City for the huge custom metalwork and facades that adorn buildings such as the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Dallas Cowboys Stadium and the Art Wall in Doha. For many years, workers at the Zahner plant were reluctant to accept robots, until employees and director Bill Zachner realized that in this way they would release skilled craftsmen to do more complex work on large-scale projects.
    If you do some things faster, this allows you to develop more creative aspects, said Zachner.

    The first robot arrived in 2007 and began to study, observing how engineers welded points on arcs up to 4.5 m long. He followed the same points based on the movements shown by the engineers. The welding seams made by the robot were no worse than those that the master did. Zachner notes that maybe even better because robots don't get tired by the end of a long day.


    Simple as an iPhone

    Yumi Robot (ABB)

    ABB Robotics' new robot, YuMi, is a two-handed employee for companies that have not previously used such technologies. Its user interface was inspired by the iPhone, representing "a complex product where the user does not need to know much," says ABB engineer Bertil Torvaldson. YuMi can be programmed for basic tasks, having only an application on the tablet, but now more advanced users use a full set of software tools to solve problems such as manufacturing electronics. Of all the presented robots, YuMi is most likely the easiest to train.

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