Artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities for industrial robots

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities are making their way into industrial robotics technology as manufacturers look to make robots smarter and more collaborative in their day-to-day activities on the plant floor.


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities are making their way into industrial robotics technology as manufacturers look to improve on the rigid, inflexible capabilities of standard industrial robots.

The merging of robotics and AI technology has several consequences. Early adopters of these new robotic systems are reaping the benefits. The technology, while relatively new, is widely available and impacts manufacturing processes in a number of ways.

Types of industrial robot and AI technology

Fanuc, a global robot manufacturer, has been pushing for greater connectivity and AI in their industrial robots on multiple fronts. Since 2016, Fanuc has been leveraging their Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) platform for manufacturing. The platform was the result of a collaboration with Cisco and Rockwell Automation to create an intelligent system of industrial robots.

Kuka, another robot manufacturer, is implementing AI and machine learning technology in their collaborative robots. The result is a robot that's not only capable of safely working alongside humans, but can easily be reprogrammed for new tasks, unlike traditional industrial robots that rely on extensive programming for each task.

Courtesy: Bob Vavra, CFE MediaHow manufacturers benefit from AI and industrial robotics technology

One of the greatest benefits, and one of the easiest to realize with today's technology, is increased uptime and productivity from predictive maintenance. With AI integrated with industrial robotics technology, robots can monitor their own accuracy and performance, signaling when maintenance is required to avoid expensive downtime.

Collaborative robots often use AI and machine learning technology and they can be programmed for multiple tasks at once and can learn to safely work alongside humans.

Some collaborative robots can be programmed by showing the robot how to do a task. The robot then repeats the task, learning why it fails each time it tries, until it can successfully perform a task with a high degree of repeatability.

There are many benefits of AI, machine learning, and industrial robotics technologies merging into single systems for manufacturing production. Increased uptime, reduced programming time and higher productivity are some of the greatest benefits for today's manufacturers. 

This article originally appeared on the Robotics Online Blog. Robotic Industries Association (RIA) is a part of the Association for Advancing Automation (A3), a CFE Media content partner. Edited by Chris Vavra, production editor, Control Engineering, CFE Media,

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