Working with intelligent machines

Hundreds of robots are already working in today’s factories.

By Federal Ministry of Education and Research

A workbench on the go (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

All machines will be endowed with intelligence in the not-so-distant future, in effect turning each into a kind of robot. Computers are taking over more and more tasks in factories, much like they are doing in cars. Today a technician, worker or computer scientist still has to make the right settings. In some tomorrow to come, the machine will do this on its own. The Future Work Lab shows tangible examples of what this future could look like. 

The command center (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The command center

That vehicle obeys this tablet.

Born to serve (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Born to serve

This smart cart transports tools, materials and workbenches. Finding its own way around the hall, it dodges obstacles.

A robot carrier (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

This hauler-bot is the hub of the mobile assembly station. It fetches everything you need to work - tools, parts, even the workbench.

Future Work Lab: Mobiler ArbeitsplatzFederal Ministry of Education and Research

A workbench on the go (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The hauler-bot and workbench make for a perfect match. This way, the bench can travel to any spot on the shop floor.

Smart containers (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The plastic boxes at workers’ fingertips are full of surprises. Equipped with sensors that gauge their content level, they are refilled automatically when the component count runs low.

Let the tablet be your guide (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The tablet in the background provides instructions on how to assemble parts.

Pick-up service (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The robot swings by to pick up a finished piece.

An uplifting experience (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research


An
uplifting experience

A worker has to hoist heavy loads onto a conveyor belt. His sidekick, a smart little crane, lends a ‘hand’ with the heavy lifting.

Look mom, no pressure (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

This grabber uses a vacuum to lift packages.

Hired muscle (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

You don't have to be Superwoman to pick the package off the line. The smart grabber does the heavy lifting.

I’ll be watching you (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

The system’s many sensors watch every move that is made. It also has total recall to remember the weight of each package.

Now I’ve sawed it all (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research


Now I’ve
sawed it all

This is part of a learning saw. Learning by experience, it knows which settings and tools work best for this part or that.

Now I’ve sawed it all (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Old with some added gold (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Old with some added gold

New is not the only way to go when it comes to machines. This lathe is a vintage 1950s contraption. Equipped with sensors, it is now ready for Industry 4.0.

Future Work Lab: Retrofitting mit Sense and ActFederal Ministry of Education and Research

Fehler ausgeschlossen (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Easy assembly

MonSiKo, an intuitive assistance system, does not replace humans, but it does support them in many ways during assembly. It is a teacher and controller in one.

Montage leicht gemacht (2017)Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Mistake-proof

The screen shows the various assembly stages. Sensors detect if the fitter reached into the right compartment. Optical and acoustic sensors check the quality of the finished product. The system even responds to voice commands.

MonSiKo – intuitives Assistenzsystem für die manuelle MontageFederal Ministry of Education and Research

Credits: Story

Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung
Projektträger Karlsruhe PTKA
Fraunhofer IAO
Fraunhofer IPA
Universität Stuttgart IFF
Universität Stuttgart IAT

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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