“We’re now in a world where you need to handle products down to an individual pen,” [Masaki Hojo, chief executive of Daifuku] says. If every product is placed in a separate box — black pens in one box and blue pens in another — then it is feasible for a robot to pick them. But moving and warehousing so many different containers is inefficient, hence picking is still largely done by hand.

“If you have a box with products X, Y and Z in it, then a robot needs to distinguish one from another. It needs to pick a soft item or a hard item without dropping it,” says Mr Hojo. Image processing and deep learning may make it possible for robots to do that work — but not yet.

-Robin Harding ‘Industrial robots lack smart, strong, sensitive human touch‘ Financial Times


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