The mere mention of robots taking over manufacturing sends apocalyptic terror throughout the factory. Tales of an army of zombie robots replacing workers may sell news stories, but it is far from the truth.There are many key differences between robots and zombies.
Let’s begin by pointing out the obvious.
- Robots do not eat human flesh, but Zombies do. In fact, new collaborative robots, like Baxter and Sawyer from Rethink Robotics, work side-by-side with factory workers without taking a bite. These robots can sense when a human is near and will go out of their way to avoid contact.
- Robots are lovable. Just think of some of the great robots of stage and screen like Rosie from The Jetson’s, B-9 Robot from Lost in Space and the cuddly R2-D2 of Star Wars fame. While these robots are all fictional characters, they underscore our fascination with all things robotic and the endless possibilities of technology. There have been no recorded sightings of lovable Zombies.
- Robots are helpful. Nao, a teaching robot from Aldebaran, can be programmed to do many tasks, teaching STEM skills along the way. Paro, a therapeutic robotic baby seal, is used to stimulate patients with Alzheimer’s disease and depression. Zombies have never helped anyone.
- Robots are productive, unlike Zombies that wander around drooling (and losing an occasional limb). Manufacturing robots can be programmed to do a task 24/7 without a break. When was the last time you saw a zombie do anything constructive?
- Robots do not want to be human, but I think Zombies really miss it. Robots in a manufacturing environment want to help humans. They often do tasks that are dangerous or repetitive, leaving the humans to do the creative work and to figure out how to best utilize these automation assets.
- Robots are clean and neat; Zombies are disgustingly dirty with really messy hair. Robots need to be clean and neat to function properly. Sure it takes some maintenance but this maintenance keeps the robots running. A functioning robot adds to productivity and business growth. Zombies, on the other hand, aren’t worth the time and energy it would take to clean them up.
- Robots play an important role in securing the long-term success of American manufacturing. Zombies serve no useful purpose, except for perhaps being good entertainment. Robots and automation have created a new class of manufacturing factory job in America, one that takes a higher level of skill and expertise to run the robots. This technology has helped American factories thrive and compete in the global economy.
So go ahead, get your geek on, and hug a robot today. And, if someone tells you that the Robot Zombie Apocalypse is here, bite them.
P.S. Happy Halloween!