Robot Takeover Not Taking to Manufacturing

Coming as a surprise to few, the so-called “Robot Takeover” of the economy is taking longer to arrive than experts initially expected. Of course, ever since scientists and newspersons in the 1950s touted flying cars and moon colonies by the year 2000 most people have probably come to expect that technological progress will take longer to reach the public than initial estimates projected. Bloomberg has a more in depth look at the phenomenon that offers some solid reasons to doubt small manufacturers will be fully automated anytime soon:

There isn’t a single story that explains why second-wave technologies are trickling rather than flooding into the economy. Bloomberg News spoke with several to find out how the pace of technological adoption is proceeding. Here are some of the themes that emerged:

  • Robots can handle highly repetitive tasks in manufacturing, but at BMW AG’s largest plant in the world, located in Spartanburg, South Carolina, the talk is about complexity and customization — tasks that need human input.

  • Extracting data from highly-automated manufacturing operations is harder than it sounds, executives from Cisco Systems Inc. explain.

  • Finally, when it comes to turning any critical operation over to a computer, there is this one big sticking point: trust.