Google's collaboration with Foxconn sheds light on robotics ambitions

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  • Reply 21 of 73
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post


    Lastly, keep in mind that Apple designs the machines used to build its products, has manufacturers make the machines, and buys the machines for its suppliers to use in manufacturing Apple products based on Apple designs.



     

    It sounds like Apple is WAY ahead of Google here.  Google is just desperate!

  • Reply 22 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by digitalclips View Post

    Apple is far further into this than I had any idea of. The thing that strikes me is Apple are not looking as though they intend to sell this technology in anyway, rather use it in house.



    Google on the other hand will want to make money on all and everything they touch.

     

     

    To be fair, cutting labor costs internally will result in Apple money on this technology too. There's a valid strategy in developing a process to hold an edge over your competition.

     

    Google (maybe) will essentially be enabling others to compete more efficiently with Apple.

  • Reply 23 of 73
    mknoppmknopp Posts: 257member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post



    I believe Andy Rubin's goal is the first "general use" robotic line worker. In other words, just bring in the robot, show it what to do in a natural way and it will repeat the assignment in an efficient way. This will in turn lead to robot workers and assistants in every facet of society.

     

    Then you run smack dab into the economics of it. The problem with a "general use" robot is that a manufacturing process doesn't change that quickly or that much for the majority of industry. For instance, a line to build a smartphone will remain pretty much the exact same for a year or more, that means that for all of that time your "general use" robot will have a load of features that it will not use, but you paid for.

     

    It is similar to the consideration between a robotic flex feed systems (A vibratory table coupled with a vision system and a robot. This system can be programmed to feed a variety of different parts.) and a customized vibratory feed system (A system which can only feed the part that it is built to feed. However, is generally an order of magnitude cheaper than a robotic flex feed system.). In all of my time in industrial automation we only supplied a robotic flex feed system around 2-3% of the time. The fact was that for most companies it was much more economically feasible to order an entire new vibratory feed system when they re-purposed a line then to pay for a robotic system.

     

    At this time I just don't see the economic viability of this being enough for any but a few manufacturers to want. Especially, when you consider that current industrial robots are pretty much "general use". Sure, it isn't as simply as showing them what to do in a natural way and they will just do it, but then again, given safety concerns and the way that manufacturing actually works many things are done would be much less efficient if done in a way that a human could naturally do. And this is discounting range of motion constraints for humans that don't necessarily exist for an industrial robot. At least I have never met a person with a nearly 360 degree rotating elbow or a three jointed arm (not counting shoulder).

  • Reply 24 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by mknopp View Post

     

     

    Then you run smack dab into the economics of it. The problem with a "general use" robot is that a manufacturing process doesn't change that quickly or that much for the majority of industry. For instance, a line to build a smartphone will remain pretty much the exact same for a year or more, that means that for all of that time your "general use" robot will have a load of features that it will not use, but you paid for.

     

    It is similar to the consideration between a robotic flex feed systems (A vibratory table coupled with a vision system and a robot. This system can be programmed to feed a variety of different parts.) and a customized vibratory feed system (A system which can only feed the part that it is built to feed. However, is generally an order of magnitude cheaper than a robotic flex feed system.). In all of my time in industrial automation we only supplied a robotic flex feed system around 2-3% of the time. The fact was that for most companies it was much more economically feasible to order an entire new vibratory feed system when they re-purposed a line then to pay for a robotic system.

     

    At this time I just don't see the economic viability of this being enough for any but a few manufacturers to want. Especially, when you consider that current industrial robots are pretty much "general use". Sure, it isn't as simply as showing them what to do in a natural way and they will just do it, but then again, given safety concerns and the way that manufacturing actually works many things are done would be much less efficient if done in a way that a human could naturally do. And this is discounting range of motion constraints for humans that don't necessarily exist for an industrial robot. At least I have never met a person with a nearly 360 degree rotating elbow or a three jointed arm (not counting shoulder).


     

    I think the money is in replacing the people, not the current machines.

     

    With respect to replacing the more specific current machines, remember that it took a while for all of our pocket items to end up in one container (keys, pen, paper, calculator, cash, credit cards, phone, laptop in some cases, camera, portable music, etc.). With certain cars and an e-home setup, we're getting really close to the point that you can get through a day with nothing more than a smartphone and a driver's license in your pockets. Millions now carry smartphones around, and most don't even use half of the capabilities available. 

     

    Eventually, I think economy of scale will minimize the cost of unused extra features in manufacturing robots.

  • Reply 25 of 73

    I guess that the other thing is that eventually, the robotics industry will be mostly about the software, and not so much about the hardware. I have a friend who is using a fairly inexpensive 3D printer to print parts to make 3D printer kits for his friends. Maybe a week's worth of printing and $400 worth of steppers, heaters, and controllers, and you have the capabilities of a $2500 printer. He has the time to do this because he's printed a CNC cutter that he's using to build a bigger CNC cutter that he'll use to make parts under contract (he's already signed up for a big run of wooden gun stock blanks). He'll be into this efficient manufacturing business with less than $5000 invested.

     

    Companies will likely be able to source robots in similar ways, either themselves, or contracted out. Robots can assemble the printed robot parts. It will all cost very little for the hardware, and all the value is in the software.

  • Reply 26 of 73
    Originally Posted by mdriftmeyer View Post

    What the hell for? Honda has decades of lead experience in this field.


     

    Why should Sony be worried about Apple? They have decades of lead experience in the music player field.

    Why should Research in Motion be worried about Apple? They have decades of lead experience in the phone field.

    Why should IBM be worried about Apple? They have decades of lead experience in the tablet field.

  • Reply 27 of 73
    The android police from movies like THX-1138 and Elysium were warnings from the future. They all obey Google.
  • Reply 28 of 73
    The android police from movies like THX-1138 and Elysium were warnings from the future. They all obey Google.

    Heh, heh...

    Ray Kurzweil advises Google and he authored the idea of the Singularity and immortality in our lifetimes...so I think we know where this is headed.
  • Reply 29 of 73
    zoetmbzoetmb Posts: 2,437member
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by leavingthebigG View Post



    For anyone who is going to write, "Apple should...", please pause for a moment. This is a long response.



    Apple IS already working with Foxconn in the robotics manufacturing area. Also, Apple has hired many ex-Segway employees including John Morrell, as reported by Apple Insider last year... http://appleinsider.com/articles/13/04/02/apples-hiring-of-ex-segway-robotics-expert-fuels-speculation-of-fantastic-future-products.



    ...



    Other than actually building machines itself, Apple has nearly all parts of the manufacturing process chain covered.

    Great post, but I think there are two important issues:

    - Employment rates around the world are poor enough and a robotics work force would decrease it even more.   While I don't want to sound like a luddite, if everyone is unemployed, who is left to buy the products these companies produce, especially when the companies are not only producing luxury products for the upper classes, but where the markets expect them to produce products for the masses?

     

    Also, wages in China the other third-world places are so low, even with increases that create a larger middle-class, I think it's going to be at least 25 years before it's less expensive to use robots to replace most workers than the cost of their labor.  (Using the occasional robotic arm or mechanized device to dip parts in acid or automatic "pickers" in a  warehouse is another story).

     

    - I think the future goes way beyond using robots for manufacturing.  I have predicted many times on this site that a future Apple is going to be a  robotics company.    I think Siri is just the first one-celled organism step in that process.    Now I'll hedge that bet a little bit because Apple doesn't seem to have the same vision that they once had and maybe other companies are going to get their first and dominate the market, but I think our kids (or grandkids) are going to have robots as part of their lives.    Obviously, they will be very expensive at first and sold to industry first and then to the same people who buy Tesla automobiles, but it's eventually going to be affordable to at least upper middle-class families.   

  • Reply 30 of 73
    zoetmb wrote: »
    Great post, but I think there are two important issues:
    - Employment rates around the world are poor enough and a robotics work force would decrease it even more.   While I don't want to sound like a luddite, if everyone is unemployed, who is left to buy the products these companies produce, especially when the companies are not only producing luxury products for the upper classes, but where the markets expect them to produce products for the masses?

    Also, wages in China the other third-world places are so low, even with increases that create a larger middle-class, I think it's going to be at least 25 years before it's less expensive to use robots to replace most workers than the cost of their labor.  (Using the occasional robotic arm or mechanized device to dip parts in acid or automatic "pickers" in a  warehouse is another story).

    - I think the future goes way beyond using robots for manufacturing.  I have predicted many times on this site that a future Apple is going to be a  robotics company.    I think Siri is just the first one-celled organism step in that process.    Now I'll hedge that bet a little bit because Apple doesn't seem to have the same vision that they once had and maybe other companies are going to get their first and dominate the market, but I think our kids (or grandkids) are going to have robots as part of their lives.    Obviously, they will be very expensive at first and sold to industry first and then to the same people who buy Tesla automobiles, but it's eventually going to be affordable to at least upper middle-class families.   

    When the cost to employ and train an unreliable person is greater than the cost of replacing them with a reliable robot, there will be far more robot workers. Just keep pushing up that minimum wage and you'll see every worker at every McDonalds replaced with self-order kiosks and automated systems. Believe it.
  • Reply 31 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by SpamSandwich View Post





    When the cost to employ and train an unreliable person is greater than the cost of replacing them with a reliable robot, there will be far more robot workers. Just keep pushing up that minimum wage and you'll see every worker at every McDonalds replaced with self-order kiosks and automated systems. Believe it.

    Yep. It's already happening. We recently got a bag of sponsor items at an event, and there were three different types of cheap, crappy water bottles in there. They were all made in USA, likely by robots that displaced Chinese workers. The trend will continue.

     

    It is worrying about the elimination of jobs and the kind of worldwide economy we'll have when most humans don't offer any capabilities that are worth money, or these lower-skilled humans will only be needed for remedial support of robots. Changes are coming.

  • Reply 32 of 73
    emesemes Posts: 239member

    Apple should buy or at least get involved in Aldebaran Robotics and their NAO project. The focus of NAO is to have a helpful, dialogue-capable intelligent and friendly robot in every home, which is very much Apple's style

  • Reply 33 of 73
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Emes View Post

     

    Apple should buy or at least get involved in Aldebaran Robotics and their NAO project. The focus of NAO is to have a helpful, dialogue-capable intelligent and friendly robot in every home, which is very much Apple's style


     

    Well, Apple would do the "every affluent home" version of that.

  • Reply 34 of 73
    When the cost to employ and train an unreliable person is greater than the cost of replacing them with a reliable robot, there will be far more robot workers. Just keep pushing up that minimum wage and you'll see every worker at every McDonalds replaced with self-order kiosks and automated systems. Believe it.

    Butlerian Jihad. You were warned.
  • Reply 35 of 73

    Google's iRobot.

     

    Not interested until they can sort out the singularity or an assassin robot that I can buy with Bitcoins so it can't be traced back to me.

  • Reply 36 of 73

    For less than a sec, I thought that was SJ's picture. Still I consider one sec a long time looking at some idiot who's been always dreaming of being Steve Jobs ....

  • Reply 37 of 73
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by Disturbia View Post

     

    some idiot who's been always dreaming of being Steve Jobs ....


     

    You?

     

    Or are you talking about Andy Rubin?

  • Reply 38 of 73

    So, if machines take over all human activity, including art and science, what will happen to the organic body and its conditioned-to-work-and-think brain? Surely, will it decay? Is mankind-machines coexistence possible while people are fighting for jobs and resources: competition, nations, and so on? Anyway, what is the endeavour in which a robot cannot take part or channel at all? Why won't the future automatons be alive? What is the fundamental difference between a mechanical structure, organic or inorganic, that imitates life and life itself? Is there any, virtual or real? If it said that there is a difference, is it just some kind of authority who defines and differentiates? Perhaps then, someday, will be a powerful automaton the one who will define life, its unique life, truth itself? That is, where it begins and ends life? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, take a look in a sample in http://goo.gl/rfVqw6 Just another freethinking suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms

  • Reply 39 of 73
    We alr
    So, if machines take over all human activity, including art and science, what will happen to the organic body and its conditioned-to-work-and-think brain? Surely, will it decay? Is mankind-machines coexistence possible while people are fighting for jobs and resources: competition, nations, and so on? Anyway, what is the endeavour in which a robot cannot take part or channel at all? Why won't the future automatons be alive? What is the fundamental difference between a mechanical structure, organic or inorganic, that imitates life and life itself? Is there any, virtual or real? If it said that there is a difference, is it just some kind of authority who defines and differentiates? Perhaps then, someday, will be a powerful automaton the one who will define life, its unique life, truth itself? That is, where it begins and ends life? Along these lines, there is a peculiar book, take a look in a sample in Just another freethinking suggestion, far away from dogmas or axioms

    We already have computers with enough brain power to think, or have "life". I guess that answers the question, there is an authority that defines and differentiates as you say. I believe it's the same God who sent Jesus.
  • Reply 40 of 73
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by waterrockets View Post

     

     

    You?

     

    Or are you talking about Andy Rubin?


     

    "It got incredibly personal," says one Apple executive who was briefed by Jobs on the meeting. "Jobs said that Rubin was steamed, telling him his position was anti-innovation. And this is where Steve was demeaning to Andy, saying Andy was trying to be like him, look like him, have the same haircut, the same glasses, the same style."

     

    http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-on-android-founder-andy-rubin-big-arrogant-f-2013-11

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