Jun Hongo reports: Robots are about to make significant progress toward replacing humans in the workplace, particularly in warehouses.
Hitachi Ltd. said Tuesday that it has developed a two-arm robot that can pick up items from shelves in less than half the time required by existing robots. The company said the new robots were developed to collect items in storage and should be commercially available in about five years.
Other robots have had similar structures, but Hitachi’s new machine is programmed so its parts can work in coordination. The camera on its arm can spot the requested item while the machine is still on the move, which enables it to work more quickly.
“Because of this coordination, it takes about three seconds for the arm to pick up an item once it is in front of a shelf,” compared with seven seconds existing robots need, a Hitachi spokeswoman said.
The robot can pick up a plastic bottle from inside a box using one arm, or carry a box of items using both arms, the company said. It can also use one arm to hold a box and the other to place or retrieve an item.
Hitachi said it doesn’t have an estimate of how much the robots will sell for commercially. The company will begin testing them at Hitachi warehouses in two to three years, the spokeswoman said….(read more)