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AI to interconnect islands of automation: Expert

Xinhua | Updated: 2017-04-27 11:25
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HANOVER, Germany — The combination of better cameras, better sensors and machine learning will lead to more extensive application of robots in production, said ABB Group's chief digital officer Guido Jouret in an interview with Xinhua at the Hanover Fair.

Jouret, who leads the development and deployment of ABB's digital solutions since last October, underlined that the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is to interconnect the islands of automation, namely to automate and connect multiple separate systems that are currently disconnected.

"It's very difficult to make a sensor as sensitive as human's fingers which make work like quality check hardly able to be done by robots," Jouret told Xinhua, adding that complex tasks that cannot be automated today are "opportunities."

Robots like YuMi, which was introduced as world's first truly collaborative dual-arm robot by ABB in 2015, are designed for high-precision manufacturing such as producing smartphones or complicated electronics. Jouret believed that they would have potential to be widely applied in China as a strong manufacturing power.

"There are already some elements of learning ability in YuMi, while in future we will see more cameras, more sensors and more inputs which could be both visual and auditory, maybe like listening to the environment and responding cases of strange sounds or signals," he told Xinhua.

While most robots currently live in cages, because they can injure people, Jouret pointed out in future, especially in certain service industries, robots could work side-by-side with people; whether it's in agriculture picking fruits, delivering medicines or in hospitals helping take care of patients.

"Robots will take some jobs and create opportunities for better jobs, rather than taking all jobs," he said, adding many countries with the most robots are also countries with the lowest unemployment.

China is very farsighted in investing in automation, Jouret said. As the cost of labor increases, the amount of value created per worker has to increase as well, and therefore the automation is important.

"We are absolutely interested in having conversations about partnerships with Chinese companies," he added.

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