ROBOTICS(10)

In recent years, studies on industrial robots for manufacturing applications tend to be less and less active while most academic researchers are inclined towards non-manufacturing applications. In consequence, applications for industrial robots have not varied much from the conventional handling, assembly, welding and painting. Some researchers even consider industrial robots as mature or old-fashioned technology since they only take notice of such applications. Current industrial robots are generally used for simple repetitive tasks of low added value, which substitute for unskilled factory workers. Such robots have value only if they are less expensive and used in mass production to achieve higher speed and yield. However, mass production is not the only form of operation in manufacturing industries.

There are various types of manufacturing crafts that only experienced artisans can perform. Such crafts are usually of small quantity but can create high value added products. A new market for robot technologies might develop if robotics researchers were attracted to such areas, utilizing the potentials of accumulated techniques, e.g. sensory feedback control, to achieve valuable application tasks for which even expensive intelligent robots can be worthwhile.