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Robotics in business: Everything humans need to know Posted on Jan 11 - 2018

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INTRODUCTION

One kind of robot has endured for the last half-century: the hulking one-armed Goliaths that dominate industrial assembly lines.

These industrial robots have been task-specific -- built to spot weld, say, or add threads to the end of a pipe. They aren't sexy, but in the latter half of the 20th century they transformed industrial manufacturing and, with it, the low- and medium-skilled labor landscape in much of the U.S., Asia, and Europe.

You've probably been hearing a lot more about robots and robotics over the last couple years. That's because for the first time since the 1961 debut of GM's Unimate, regarded as the first industrial robot, the field is once again transforming world economies.

Only this time the impact is going to be broader. Much broader.

Today, robots are cropping up in offices, hospitals, and schools -- decidedly non-industrial environments -- as well as in warehouses, fulfillment centers, and small manufacturing centers. More and more, they are on our roads and flying overhead.

And that's just to name a few spheres in which robots are rapidly gaining traction by doing work more efficiently, reliably, and for less money than previously possible.

That's got a lot of people excited -- and a lot of others worried. The stunning pace of development in the industry has raised lots of questions.

This guide, written with the enterprise in mind, will address the big questions. And it'll give you the context to make up your mind about others. It'll also give you a handle on an industry that's poised to drive $135.4 billion in spending by 2019, one whose relevance to commerce and day-to-day life in the coming decades cannot be overstated.

WHAT IS A ROBOT?

Robotics geeks debate this over beers. No one wins. That's because any definition is bound to be arbitrarily rigid or too general.

Is your washing machine a robot? Is a modern high-end car, which engages in thousands of processes without the driver's knowledge? In truth, it's a little like Justice Potter Stewart's definition of pornography View More

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