In a previous post I outlined cobots utopia where collaborative robots extend the worker’s abilities and compensate some human weaknesses. In this perspective cobots could keep aging workers on the job and help to improve industrial jobs’ image, often quoted Dirty, Dangerous and Difficult.
The cooperation between robots and workers could increase manpower productivity, hence reducing the cost gap with low-cost countries.
How likely is this to happen?
Let’s put it bluntly: why should an investor invest to compensate the human weaknesses with high-tech, knowing that in the system made of the association of robots and humans, the latter will still be the limiting factor?
Everything else being equal, why should an investor choose the precarious option of backing-up expensive workforce with cobots when a cheaper basic workforce is available somewhere in poorer, not-so-advanced countries?
Everything else being equal, why should an investor choose to invest in a complex combination of man-and-machine when full automation / robotics may soon be / already is (?) available?
Big Data combined with cyberphysical devices will come closer to human intelligence, allowing machines to learn from experience and predict failures, stoppage, breakdowns and act accordingly.
If investors are facing the choice between a cobot assisted human worker and a full automated process, I’m not sure many cobots will sell. What’s sure, the robot makers will sell, either robots or cobots!
Related: Cobots utopia