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ABB sets discussion on the future of technology in motion at WEF

2018-09-20 13:49:52 ABB Motors Read

ABB collaborates with ‘The Robot Whisperer’ Madeline Gannon to engage world leaders on the changing relationship of people and robots.

ABB presents an innovative collaborative display of industrial robots called MANUS at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin, China from September 18 – 20, 2018. MANUS was created by 'the Robot Whisperer' Madeline Gannon, a leading researcher on human/robot communications. It is designed to challenge traditional views about the relationship of people and robots.

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The display's ten interconnected ABB IRB 1200 industrial robots are able to move in unison as a group or independently as they attentively interact with individual visitors. The robots' human-like sense of awareness comes from a series of sensors that track movements with great precision in the three-dimensional space.

Industrial robots traditionally do exactly what they are programmed to do. They cannot perceive and respond to changes in their environment like a person. However, new technologies, such as those used in MANUS, allow robots to adapt to changes with extreme speed and with less human intervention than ever before.

In a factory setting, this means ABB industrial robots can improve safety by helping to avoiding collisions, guiding robots to work materials, and detecting and correcting conditions which could lead to expensive breakdowns. The enhanced synchronization of people and robots also makes greater collaboration possible in which intuitively compliment and augment people's work tasks.

When sensor-based information from connected robots and machines is combined with powerful new cloud-based computing capabilities, automation systems become more efficient and reliable and are able to manage change with less manual intervention. Advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning are also making it possible for robots to be more productive within the defined scope of their activities, for example, figuring out how to grasp unfamiliar parts on their own, or guiding automatic vehicles through a factory while avoiding collisions and delivering the right parts to the right place.

This adaptability is increasingly important because the trend towards mass customization of everything from automobiles to smart phones and food means that manufacturing is becoming less predictable and with more variations, which is difficult to automate. People play – and will continue to play – a very important role in manufacturing. As the ability of robots to understand and react to changes in their environment improves, they will make work safer and free people to take on tasks which are more cognitive than physical and repetitive, and ones where they can add the most value.

Naturally this change affects more than industry, and it's one of the reasons why robots and artificial intelligence are a key part of the world leaders' agenda at the Tianjin WEF Forum.

"The successful integration of automation technology into our society – both today and tomorrow - requires an on-going dialogue between governments, private business and the academic community. ABB is honored to contribute to these very important discussions with an exhibition that inspires world leaders to think about how people and robots can collaborate in a safe way and with higher effi-ciency and quality," said Dr. Chunyuan Gu, President of the Asia, Middle East and Africa region for ABB. 

ABB (ABBN: SIX Swiss Ex) is a pioneering technology leader in power grids, electrification products, industrial automation and robotics and motion, serving customers in utilities, industry and transport & infrastructure globally. Continuing a history of innovation spanning more than 130 years, ABB today is writing the future of industrial digitalization with two clear value propositions: bringing electricity from any power plant to any plug and automating industries from natural resources to finished products. As title partner in ABB Formula E, the fully electric international FIA motorsport class, ABB is pushing the boundaries of e-mobility to contribute to a sustainable future. ABB operates in more than 100 countries with about 147,000 employees.

Madeline Gannon: is passionate about inventing better ways to communicate with machines. She develops human-centered interfaces that transform bodies into interactive canvases and robots into sentient companions as a way of illustrating the future of digital making. Her work blends disciplinary knowledge from design, robotics and human-computer interaction to innovate at the edges of digital creativity. Her work has been internationally exhibited at leading cultural institutions, published at ACM conferences, and widely covered by diverse media outlets across design, art, and technology communities. Gannon leads ATONATON, a research studio scouting the untapped potential of emerging technologies, and is a 2017 World Economic Forum Cultural Leader.

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