The modern factory is the natural habitat for the latest generation of industrial robots, and we’re seeing some impressive results from that environment’s natural artificial selection. One of ABB’s latest robots can glide along a horizontal rail for up to 33m while performing complex tasks or carrying a payload of 150 kg. The IRB 6620LX is a five axes robotic arm suitable for welding, grinding, assembly, or materials handling. According to its press release, it’s only been on sale since October, so I doubt its permeated through to your local factory. Still, seeing this thing in action, I can just imagine a whole plant full of these things zipping around back and forth, juggling multiple tasks on the same line. Watch the 6620LX get put through its paces in the video below, and don’t miss the “robot-view” footage starting at 0:47.
Sometimes I find myself cheerleading robots just because they look cool. Which I’m totally okay with, but I don’t want to ignore the bigger picture here. Sure, ABB makes some impressive bots, and the 6620LX even beats the old “soda can” trick we love so much by dodging at high speeds through wine glasses (0:52). More importantly though, industrial robots as a whole are getting more versatile, able to work in many different applications using the same basic platform. The 6620LX could be spot welding a car in one factory, and moving baked goods in another. The same goes for all the other industrial robot arms we’ve seen lately. Robots have already taken over manufacturing to such a degree that we can see entire factories with a minimum of human workers. Now we’re creating the next generation of these industrial juggernauts, and they’re only going to increase their dominance in the field. As automation and robotics continue to advance we’ll see manufacturing continue through this mechanized revolution. The end result is likely to be cheaper goods, faster production, and a shift in the human labor force. That’s an exciting and scary prospect. And it’s amazing to watch in action.
[image and video credit: ABB Robotics]
[source: ABB Robotics]