The rise of the robot workforce

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When the coronavirus brought supply chains to a halt and disrupted manufacturing across the globe, many companies quickly realised the importance of investing in automation and robotics to help them stay afloat. In a survey from the National Association of Manufacturers conducted at the start of the pandemic, 53 per cent of those in the manufacturing sector expected Covid-19 to impact their operations, while a further 35.5 per cent said they were facing supply chain disruptions.
Which is why finding fully autonomous robots that can be easily assimilated into our factories has never been more crucial. Enter MusashiAI, a joint venture between Israel-based SixAI and Japan’s Musashi Seimitsu. It’s the world’s first employment agency for robots, offering them for hire at an affordable level. The aim of the company is not to replace humans, but to liberate people from doing the repetitive, mundane inspection and material transport tasks that 40 per cent of the global workforce are currently performing.


What sets MusashiAI apart from other companies developing fleets of robot workers, however, is its approach to automation and a business model which uses robots as a service. Using a combination of edge computing, optics and artificial intelligence, the company says it has been able to teach its robots how to think like a human: a visual quality control inspector is able to undertake the monotonous tasks of determining whether there’s a defect in a part, while an eye in the sky is constantly monitoring and instructing a fleet of autonomous forklifts on where to go and who or what to avoid. The company retrofits its technology into existing factories, meaning costs can be shifted from CAPEX to OPEX, in turn reducing capital costs for the manufacturer.
WIRED spoke to Ran Poliakine, founder of SixAI to hear about the technology behind MusashiAI’s autonomous robots, and why he thinks manufacturing will move towards the “robots as a service” model in the near future.

For more information on MusashiAI, click here.

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