Autonomous lawnmowers, thermostats, lamps, cars or simple kitchen appliances: nowadays, almost every "thing" is capable of connecting to other gadgets or data sources via the internet. Now, it is time to also make industrial production more agile, intelligent and efficient along the same lines.
Our demands on intelligent machines
There are parameters that are required for success in the networked world of IoT and Industrie 4.0. Machines that join, assemble, transport and so on do not have to look like people. To all intents and purposes, machines only have to accomplish three things: they must carry out their task as efficiently as possible, be able to adapt to new framework conditions as quickly as possible and, in the future, be capable of sharing this knowledge with processes and systems in an intelligent way.
At the same time, they take on a range of different guises. This is made possible by the cloud, where machines communicate with the production, workpieces or other appliances. We know them as 3D printers, CNC machines or indeed as robots – probably the most generic and versatile machine that human beings have ever thought up.
The backbone of the "fourth industrial revolution"- Intelligent Robots
KUKA recognized the potential of networked and open automation systems back in the 1990s. For example, in 1998 we introduced the world’s first interoperable, web-capable industrial robot onto the market. Possibly, it was those machines that provided the impulse for the evolution which we currently know as Industrie 4.0, or the fourth industrial revolution. It is a fact that no robot today has any future unless it is capable of being integrated into complex, networked production systems on the basis of standardized mainstream technologies.
And robots are continuing to develop further. In a variety of forms and configurations, they are conquering areas which were still closed to them only a few years back. Wherever the journey takes us – in the future too, intelligent robots will form the sturdy backbone of industrial production. They will not only be tethered within cells as we knew them in the past, but provided with new intelligence, apps that are simple to integrate and give them new capabilities at a click, or cloud-based functions that turn them into active players in the flexible, autonomously operating smart factory.