Breaking News: Rosie the Robot is Real

Written By: Clay Britton

Industrial robots are more advanced and safer than ever before, making them real-life Rosie the robots.

Industrial robots are the new RosieRemember when Rosie the Robot, the famous maid from The Jetsons, was a fantasy character every human wished they had available in their own home? Why should we have to do regular household chores when a robot could do them for us? Then we could focus our efforts on more important things, like watching a baseball game or going out of town on a family vacation. Well folks, I have news for you: Those robots are REAL!

Fifty years ago, who would have thought we could move a box from point A to point B without a human? In contrast, today’s material handling world provides multiple types of industrial robots that can help companies achieve their operational needs. There are palletizing robots, machine tending, case packing, pick and place, and mobile robots available to customers. Once you have one, you just give them a broom like Rosie’s (or in this case, an end of arm tool), and off they go.

Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV)Let’s compare Rosie to an automated guided vehicle (AGV). Rosie is given a chore by George, and then she rolls through the house on her little casters performing her task. Well, an AGV is not much different. An AGV is given an order, and then it travels autonomously throughout the warehouse performing its job. These assignments can range from picking paint buckets, wine bottles, or even retrieving consumers’ Amazon orders. It’s as easy as counting to three.

Because industrial robots are so fast and powerful, robotic work cells are often surrounded by safety fencing or protective light curtains to safeguard operators and facility personnel. However, there are collaborative robots currently being developed that allow humans to work side-by-side with them in a hazard-free environment. These types of robots are able to detect conditions that could affect human safety. The robot understands what its typical forces are to pick up a product, but as soon as it detects something different than that force, it safely stops.

Humans and industrial robotsAdditionally, most of these robots have multiple joints and run in a soft-compliant mode that allows a human to easily move the robot if it were to come into contact with them. These robots are also able to be taught, and more importantly, they won’t complain. Employees who work by a robot can program the robot themselves by moving the robot’s arms or tool to its intended position to perform the task. These types of robots give their coworkers an “extra hand” and allow them to be more efficient with their work.

Again, Rosie is REAL! The future is here. What was once considered a fictional character has today become a reality. Everyone needs a Rosie-like robot to make their lives easier. The only question that remains is: Where will robotics be 50 years from today? Maybe a robot will be able to drive my car on a long road trip while I sit in the passenger seat snoozing. Perhaps a robot will cook my dinner for me every night while I sit on the couch and catch up on the daily news. A robot may even be able to give me a back massage after a long day at work. Sure, these may seem improbable, but isn’t that what we thought about Rosie, too?

Industrial robots are improving
I graduated with a Biomedical Engineering degree from Rose-Hulman in 2011 and began work with Bastian Robotics in July 2012. I have worked on palletizing, case packing, and machine tending robotic projects and several case conveyor jobs too. I love sports, and my favorite teams are: Illinois Fighting Illini, St. Louis Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, and Miami Heat.

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