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How No-Code Programming Is Unlocking Robotic Accessibility

How No-Code Programming Is Unlocking Robotic Accessibility

How No-Code Programming Is Unlocking Robotic Accessibility

Welcome to Thomas Insights — every day, we publish the latest news and analysis to keep our readers up to date on what’s happening in industry. Sign up here to get the day’s top stories delivered straight to your inbox. Image Credit: SritanaN / “Even with a wide-open net, the best NHL player will still [sometimes] miss the net. They’re never going to be perfect in every circumstance,” Chris Adams, senior project manager for the Advanced Robotics for Manufacturing (ARM) Institute . “So being able to train robots to detect [flaws] at a greater rate than humans is important.” Human workers are still integral, though, Adams added: “They’re the expert, so they can coach the robot.” By 2024 around 500,000 industrial robots will be installed each year around the world, according to recent statistics from the robotics sector. ARM’s mission is to lead the way to a future where both people and robots work together to respond to our nation’s greatest challenges. In the latest episode of the Thomas Industry Podcast , we chatted with Adams about how ARM is helping small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) understand how robots can augment their factories and how no-code programming could be the key to making robots more accessible. ARM Awarded Part of the Build Back Better Grant Through the Biden administration’s American Rescue Plan , the Economic Development Administration (EDA) developed a $1 billion Build Back Better Regional Challenge that awarded grants to various companies throughout the United States to assist different regions in their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. ARM was awarded $14 billion to build a robotics and autonomy cluster in Southwestern Pennsylvania. “The overall scope of ARM’s part of the project is to work with SMBs to help them integrate robotics on their shop floor,” Adams said. “We’re in the process of building out what we’re calling the robotics manufacturing hub.” ARM helps companies interested in implementing robotics to solve production challenges and skilled worker shortages understand what the return on investment would be. “We’re going to work with them and [discover] what they want at the end of the day,” he said. “Where are the robots going to be of the most benefit?” ARM will fully scope out each project, even going as far as mocking up a company’s facility within its own facility. “We’ll prove out the entire process so they have a complete picture before it’s even installed at their facility,” he said. This enables them to tell companies what they need; for example: “‘You need robots A, B, and C, and you need to buy this system.’” He explains, “We have done the report and shown you the return on your investment. At least right now, I’m not familiar with any other process or project that can provide that.” What Is No-Code Programming? Research shows that over the next decade, more than two million jobs in the manufacturing sector will go unfulfilled. In order to tackle this problem, ARM is developing systems called no-code programming. “No-code programming is going to change the game when it comes to [robotic] adoption,” Adams said. “As a country, we are lagging behind in robotic installation compared to our counterparts in Asia and even Europe. A lot of that comes down to the accessibility of the robot and not having the knowledge to code a robot or program it.” Because every robot is different and uses a distinct device with a particular programming language, programming a robot is difficult. Each user interface requires the programmer to learn a specific language for that brand of the robot before writing code to properly program it. But what if there were a single, codeless way to program robots? With no-code programming, tasks are represented with building blocks that work across different types of robots. Anyone at any skill level or factory can easily learn how to use the system. “Being able to break down these walls and teach very quickly is going to go a big way so that you don’t have to go to school for four years to understand machine learning, neural networks, and artificial intelligence,” Adams said. By democratizing robot programming, a great number of companies can take advantage of the benefits of automation. In turn, the American economy will grow as U.S. businesses become more competitive on the global stage. Listen to the Full Episode of the Thomas Industry Podcast In the full episode of the podcast , Adams dives deeper into the technologies ARM is investing […]

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Daisie Hobson

Daisie Hobson is a Director at the Reshoring Institute and an engineer with many years of experience in manufacturing and project management.

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