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Robotics primed to transform domestic and global economies, says ProMat keynote speaker

By Josh Bond, Contributing Editor
January 24, 2013

Monday’s opening keynote, “The Impact of Robotics on Economic Growth,” drew a 50/50 split of attendees for both ProMat and Automate, according to a show of hands requested by presenter Henrik Christensen, KUKA Chair of Robotics and Director of Robotics at Georgia Tech.

Christensen successfully united the co-located shows by outlining present and future logistics applications for robots and automation. He also emphasized the increasingly competitive domestic labor market, citing a rapidly shrinking salary gap and efforts by Apple and Lenovo to bring more manufacturing jobs to the United States. Christensen discussed his successful efforts at the White House to convince lawmakers that automation and job growth were not mutually exclusive.

“It’s about how to leverage and empower the workforce, not remove it,” he said. “Once we bring manufacturing here, we also have more control over jobs in the associated supply chain.”

Christensen suggested that 10 years from now, autonomous cars could serve as driverless parcel carriers and unpiloted drones could ship packages coast to coast. Inside a facility, robots serviced by their manufacturer are already providing intra-facility transportation services, with the customer no more involved with robot maintenance than they are in upkeep of UPS trucks.

About the Author

Josh Bond
Contributing Editor

Josh Bond is a contributing editor to Modern. In addition to working on Modern’s annual Casebook and being a member of the Show Daily team, Josh covers lift trucks for the magazine.


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