I, Robot

Filed under: Robot Happiness Workflow

It’s easy to just move on after merely getting something to work when you’re using an incredibly fast and robust robot. The robot moves the heavy thing from point A to point B and you even have a little cycle time to spare. The customer’s happy; you’re happy; time to celebrate, right?

But what about the robot? Is the robot happy too? Would you be happy performing that task all day? Certainly not, but if you had to do it for a little while, would you do it like you just taught the robot, or would you tweak a couple of things to make it a little easier?

I try to keep the robot’s happiness in mind throughout the entire project. During the initial engineering meetings I ask, “can we move that fixture a little closer so the robot doesn’t have to stretch out so far?” While I’m programming I think to myself, “is this the best wrist orientation I can use for this position? Can I smooth out this path?” Once everything is working I wonder if we can slow the robot down and still make rate.

One of the really cool things about automation and programming in general is the ability to accomplish the same task 1000 different ways. This freedom allows us number-loving engineers to exercise some creativity and come up with truly optimal solutions for our engineering problems.

As robots get faster, stronger and easier to program, your solutions may not have to be elegant. These incredible machines can probably make up for any shortcomings in your implementation. However, when Judgement Day comes and the robots become self-aware, I like to think that they’ll think twice before exterminating me, considering my painstaking efforts to make their former lives easier.


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