A “good partner” on the assembly line?Chinese scientists develop ‘mind-reading’ robot

According to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post website, Chinese scientists have developed a “mind-reading technique”Robotto assist the assembly line work.

Chinese researchers say they have developed a device that can read the brains of human colleaguesIndustrial Robotthe accuracy rate is as high as 96%.

According to researchers from the Intelligent Manufacturing Innovation Technology Center of Three Gorges University, the Robot can not only monitor the brain waves of workers, but also collect muscle electrical signals, which can seamlessly assist humans to assemble a complex product together.

When colleagues need a tool or component, they don’t need to talk or do anything, the developers say, because the Robot can recognize the intent almost instantly, pick up the object and place it on the workstation.

“In modern industrial manufacturing, assembly work accounts for 45 percent of the total workload and 20 to 20 to 30%.” The article said that cobots could speed up the assembly line, but theirapplicationStill limited because their ability to recognize human intent is often inaccurate and unstable.

Humans and robots or autonomous machines have been working together in factories for decades, but in most places they are fenced off to avoid accidents. In recent years, some advanced production plants, such as German car factories, have introduced a fence-free work environment, where robots only start working when a button is pressed. The machines are equipped with safety sensors that stop them as soon as they come into physical contact with humans.

Some research teams are trying to develop a new generation of “cobots” that can guess human intentions by monitoring eye or body movements. However, these passive methods suffer from slow response and poor accuracy.

To overcome this problem, the robot created by Dong Yuanfa’s team was trained for hundreds of hours by eight volunteers. Volunteers were first asked to wear a non-invasive brainwave detector, and the team found that the robot was able to estimate their intentions with about 70 percent accuracy.

However, the brain signals are fairly weak, and in order for the robot to get a clear message, the volunteers need to work very hard to focus on the job at hand. In contrast, the muscle signal collected by several sensors fixed on the arm is more stable. Although these signals also weakened as the volunteers fatigued, a combination of brain and muscle signals could help the robot estimate a worker’s next move within a second with unprecedented accuracy.

However, it is unclear whether these laboratory results can be replicated in a real factory setting. The researchers could not be reached for comment. The paper argues that the application of the new technology in a real factory environment will face some challenges. Although brain and muscle detectors can be placed inside workers’ hats and uniforms, the quality of the data can be compromised by sweat or irregular movements. But the researchers point out that giving the robot motion and vision data could solve these problems. As part of its “smart manufacturing” goal, China announced a few days ago a plan to become a global hub for robotics innovation by 2025.

The number of industrial robots in China has been growing at an annual rate of 15 percent since 2016, Wang Weiming, director of the Industrial Equipment Department at China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, said in Beijing. Wang Weiming said that China has 246 robots per 10,000 workers, twice the world average, but most robots are made with technology developed in the West and are sometimes unable to cope with China’s challenging environment.

As a result, China urgently needs more powerful robotics to address issues such as declining birth rates and rising labor costs. By 2025, more than 70 percent of China’s large factories will use robots, he added.

Song Xiaogang, secretary-general of the China Robot Industry Alliance, said that the development of collaborative robots will be given priority.

“There will be a transition from fence operations to human-robot collaboration,” he told a news conference. Some Chinese factories require employees to wear brain-reading helmets or use AI-controlled cameras to monitor facial expressions. While the intent is to spot fatigue, depression or other psychological signs that could affect productivity or safety, critics have warned of privacy concerns.

A study by Peking University shows that from 2006 to 2016, the large-scale application of robots in nearly 300 cities helped Chinese factories produce more high-quality, high-quality products, enhancing China’s overall global competitiveness.

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Published on 10/09/2022