NEW TAIPEI CITY, Taiwan—In 2011, Foxconn announced a plan to replace 500,000 mainland Chinese workers with 1 million robots over the next three to five years. So far, the electronics manufacturing services provider has installed 40,000 robots across China. MORE
ROCHESTER HILLS, MI—Fanuc, one of the world’s largest makers of industrial robots, is working with Nvidia, a Silicon Valley chipmaker that specializes in artificial intelligence, to add learning capabilities to its products.
BROUGHTON, UK—Like a cartoon space alien with a dome-like skull, an Airbus Beluga transport plane arriving from Madrid drops from the sky above this village 200 miles northwest of London and taxis to a stop with its front end tucked inside a large building off the runway. Its bulbous forehead pops open to disgorge massive wing panels—98 feet long and 20 feet wide—that will soon be assembled by sophisticated robots and about 800 people into the largest carbon-fiber composite wings now built for commercial aviation.
PETROLIA, CA—Victor Scheinman, the Stanford engineering professor whose electrically powered, computer-controlled robot would become the Programmable Universal Machine for Assembly (PUMA) robot, has died at age 73.
In every manufacturing industry, tradition is becoming less important. Companies no longer assume that what worked in the past will be enough to keep and gain customers. Instead, they look to the latest technology to improve manufacturing processes, optimize product quality and expand their customer base.