Government Attitudes Toward Programmable Automation

  • J. A. Alic


Governments in many parts of the world have adopted industrial policies intended to promote domestic industries, with objectives such as accelerating economic growth, securing advantages in international trade, and maintaining employment. In Japan and several Western European nations, programmable automation — particularly robotics — has been a recent focus of national industrial policies because of the potential that exists for improving the international competitiveness of the many industries that can utilize this technology.


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References and Notes

  1. 1.
    P.J. Schuyten, “Light Industry Adding Robots,” New York Times, October 25, 1979, p. D2.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    P. Marsh, “America’s Factories Race to Automation,” New Scientist, June 25, 1981, p. 845. The 5 percent estimate is that of G. Boothroyd, of the University of Massachusetts.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    R. Ristelhueber, “Robotics — The Applications Gap,” Electronic News, January 11, 1982, p. 60.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    N. Usui, “Untended Machines Build Machines, American Machinist, June 1981, p. 142.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    On visual sensing, see, for example, H.G. Barrow and J.M. Tenenbaum, “Computational Vision,” Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 69, 1981, p. 572.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Generalized processing of visual information demands enormous computing capability, estimated to be 109–1011 operations per second for real-time processing (D.R. Reddy and R.W. Hon, “Computer Architectures for Vision,” Computer Vision and Sensor-Based Robots, G.G. Dodd and L. Rossol, eds. (New York: Plenum Press, 1979), op. cit., p. 169). At present, this is within the capabilities of only the most powerful supercomputersCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Some researchers feel that robot vision has been overemphasized at the expense of less glamorous but equally useful sensory capabilities — e.g., true position, force, or touch. On other sensors, see W.H. Boykin and R.G. Diaz, “The Application of Robotic Sensors — A Survey and Assessment,” Advances in Computer Technology1980, Volume 1, (New York: American Society of Mechanical Engineers, 1980), p. 160.Google Scholar
  8. 6.
    R.P. Paul, J.Y.S. Luh, and S.Y. Nof, “Advanced Industrial Robot Control Systems,” Ninth Conference on Production Research and Technology, Ann Arbor, MI, November 3–5, 1981, National Science Foundation, p. H 1. Few R&D groups have thus far begun attacking the problems in modeling and control created by mass and flexibility in robot arms, much less damping and the effects of clearances and tolerance buildups.Google Scholar
  9. 7.
    Technology Assessment: The Impact of Robots, Eikonix Corporation, Burlington, MA, final report to National Science Foundation, grant no. ERS7600637, September 30, 1979, p. 102. The report estimates that, of the roughly 14,000 workers employed tending die casting machines in the United States, perhaps 600 have so far been replaced by robots.Google Scholar
  10. 8.
    R. Allan, “Busy Robots Spur Productivity,” IEEE Spectrum, September 1979, p. 31.Google Scholar
  11. 9.
    S. Lohr, “New in Japan: The Manless Factory,” New York Times, December 13, 1981, p. F.1Google Scholar
  12. 10.
    N.N. Fender, “Robots in Paint Finishing,” Industrial Robots, Volume 2: Applications (Dearborn, MI: Society of Manufacturing Engineers, 1979), p. 185.Google Scholar
  13. 12.
    E. Heer, “Robots in Modern Industry,” Astronautics & Aeronautics, September 1981, p. 50.Google Scholar
  14. 16.
    “Robotics: They Are Smart and Never Need a Tea-Break,” Far Eastern Economic Review, December 4, 1981, p. 70; K. YONEMOTO, “The Art of Industrial Robots in Japan — Their Socio-Economic Impacts,” U.S.-Japan Technological Exchange Symposium, Washington, DC, October 21, 1981, p. 1.Google Scholar
  15. 17.
    Y. Machida, “Industrial Robot in Japan,” LTCB Research, Long-Term Credit Bank of Japan, March/April 1981, p. 4.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Department of Mechanical Engineering University of Manchester Institute of Science and Technology 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. A. Alic
    • 1
  1. 1.Office of Technology AssessmentUS CongressWashingtonUSA

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