Industrial Robotics 2.0

ABB, the world's biggest industrial automation company, is promoting a very impressive humanoid concept platform called FRIDA.  I want it real bad.  From IEEE Spectrum Automation Blog


"Traditional industrial robots are big, expensive, and hard to integrate into existing manufacturing processes. They're also difficult to reprogram when production changes become necessary and they can't safely share spaces with human workers. This barrier to entry has kept small and medium companies "robot-less" -- at a time when robots, more than ever, could boost productivity and ameliorate labor shortages…

To make it even safer, its motors have limited drive power and soft pads cover its body. The robot has 7-axis arms, each with a servo gripper for small-part handling. Inside the torso is a control system based on ABB's IRC5 industrial controller.  So what can FRIDA do? One scenario ABB envisions is using it to bring more automation to the fast-paced, and mostly human-powered, assembly lines found in the electronics industry."

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  • I prefer the Encyclopaedia Britannica definition "a robot is any automatically operated machine that replaces human effort, though it may not resemble human beings in appearance or perform functions in a humanlike manner".


    mechanical men and arms are far too "hollywood" and impose severe limitatins on functionality. Why use "robot arms" when a conveyor belt and a couple of levers and cams can do a faster, better and cheaper job?


  • There are no such things as coincidences.

    I liked Asimov's "laws" which were more of a "in a perfect world", a "Love thy neighbor" policy that gets violated constantly.

    I liked Metropolis (Fritz Lang,1927) in that the "robot" is more human than most of the humans. Much more meaningful and some might say a better premise than R.U.R, as well as most modern SciFi "robot" based movies.

  • I'm pretty sure you inspired Ira to write this article today Duane:
  • Capek said he used the Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude". You are correct though, the useage and meaning of words changes over time and distance. As an American I don't know why English cars have a hat and shoes (bonnet and boot). : )
  • Duane, actually "rabota", "rabotja" ( I don't write those in cyrillic with purpose to be not confusing), means just "work" or "working" (for example in Bulgarian. it means also piece of art, job, something to do (that is done), etc. for other languages you can just play with google translate and words work and rabota, robota ). I saw the definition on other places, but don't know what is the reason to be associated with "forced labour"

    Just discussing :-)

  • That's a small one!

    But not the first with dual-arms:

    (Yes, I have worked for Motoman)


  • Very interesting.
  • I was an automation technican (one of many careers) and my favorite machine was a pair of "core making robots" in a PA foundry that were manufactured in 1914.... and still working flawlessly in 1990! Beautiful Art Nouveau design too. Modern stuff is ugly by comarison IMHO.

    Leonardo DaVinci designed quite a few robots and animatronics (what most people mean when they say "robot") were in operation in ancient Greece, mostly temple "tricks".

    Robotics is a feild older than blacksmithing, be proud to be a part of that tradition.


    Thanks for this blog post. Very approprate for a "flying robot" site.


  • Interesting - I knew about the R.U.R. sci-fi story, but was not aware of the the slavic etymology.
  • The word on which our word "robot" is found in many Slavic languages and basically means "forced laborer". It was firs used in its modern meaning in1920 in the play R.U.R. by Karel Capek.

    In 20th Century usage, a robot is a device which performs tasks once performed by humans. The feild of industrial automation is robotics. Possibly the most numerous robots in the world have been in place for several decades. You have probaly seen one of them and very likely interacted with one of these robots.


    The popular usage of the term robot, which requires human form or part there of (robotic arm), is inaccurate and fails to recognize that robots have been a part of our lives for over a century.

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