State of the art technology in the industry is equal to automation. Lots of machines are used which have increased the productivity. For example a crane, a truck, electric light, a food packaging machine, refrigerators, oven and container ships. No factory owner and no worker is motivated to renounce of these technology, because it helps them to increase the profit, to reduce the costs and to make life easier. The shared similarity of automation with high productivity is the absence of software. The cited machines are working all-mechanical. That means, they didn't have an onboard microcontroller, they didn't have neural networks or a VXworks realtime operating system. Instead the technology in automation is based on classical engineering, it's a combination of electric powersource, motors and a mechanic to execute a job. This allows the crane to lift up a load, and the oven to bake bread.

In contrast, the robotics revolution and especially Artificial Intelligence is about technology which goes beyond classical automation. Via definition, a robot is a software-defined machine which contains of an operating system, a middleware and lots of AI related software packages for vision, motion planning, symbolic planning, and reinforcement learning. The contrast between a robot like the EV3 mindstorms brick and automation technology used in the industry is huge. The main contrast is the software: the EV3 brick has to be programmed, while the forklift not.

What robotics engineers are trying to do is to extend classical automation with robots. The idea is to bring biped walking robots, grasping robots, autonomous cars and humanoid robots into the real life. That means into the factory and into the home. Is it possible to shape this transition soft? Soft means, that the world is not surprised by it but can adapt slowly. Or let me ask the question from a different perspective: From the failed robotics projects in the past, e.g. Halle 54 at VW, or robots at home it is known that introducing robotics into the reality is harder than expected. Until now, not a single household robot is produced for a mass market. Is it possible that a soft transition isn't possible?


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