Three goals of the development of intelligent robot technology in China

Human society has always been in the direction of automation and intelligence. Robot R&D, manufacturing, and application will become important symbols for measuring national technological innovation and high-end manufacturing levels, and will be a strategic requirement for national science and technology development. The next step in the development of intelligent robots will be reflected in the improvement and improvement of operational capabilities, human-computer interaction, and security. China still has a big bottleneck in the core technology of intelligent robots, but at the same time it also has natural advantages. It should speed up the development of the industrial wave and realize overtaking.

Since the advent of the world's first industrial robot in 1959, "robotics" has made great achievements, and it has begun to be widely used in various fields such as manufacturing, services, healthcare/medical care, defense, and space. In 2013, the McKinsey Global Institute released the report “Disruptive Technology Leading Global Economic Change”, which includes advanced robots in 12 technologies. The "robot revolution" is expected to become an entry point and an important growth point for the "third industrial revolution," which will affect the global manufacturing strategy.

Four-point power to promote industrial development

First, the manufacturing labor price is getting higher and higher, while the product prices are getting lower and lower. Companies need to use robots to change the production mode of traditional manufacturing industries that rely on intensive cheap labor;

Second, as human life and quality of life are getting higher and higher, and human resources that can provide aging services are becoming less and less, humans need to use intelligent machine equipment to provide quality services;

Third, natural and man-made disasters and wars still occur frequently and humans are unable to adapt to such environments. Humans need robots instead of humans to perform tasks;

Fourth, humans are exploring more and more extreme environmental activities such as deep seas and space. Humans have low and costly survival capabilities in such environments and need to use robots to implement remote interactive operations.

The use of machinery enlarges and extends the human limbs. The use of computers enhances the function of the human brain. The use of robots will greatly expand the human's comprehensive capabilities, and the robot era is approaching.

Different traditional and modern needs

Traditional industrial robots are used in structured environments to perform repetitive tasks, while modern robots want to work collaboratively with humans in the same unstructured space and environment to perform non-deterministic tasks online in real time; traditional robots are many Input and single-ended output systems, while modern robots belong to multi-input and multi-terminal output systems; conventional robots are far inferior to smart operations, online perception, understanding of human behavior and abstract commands, and cognitive and decision-making capabilities. People cannot communicate effectively with people. Due to the difficulties of robot teaching and planning and the lack of effective safety mechanisms, modern robots will face a series of technical challenges such as how to work with people, how to serve human life, and how to achieve human-computer interaction and self-disciplined collaborative control.

Industrial Powers Give Priority to Robot Industry

In 2013, the United States published the "Road from the Internet to Robots - U.S. Robot Development Roadmap". It predicts that robotics is a new technology that can have a revolutionary impact on the future of mankind, as it has on the Internet. It has the great potential to change the future. Like computer equipment, it will spread all over the world in the coming decades. Robots will become an important helper for human beings and will play a crucial role in solving many challenges such as sustainable manufacturing, social aging, medical/health services, and extreme environmental service.

Prior to the appearance of industrial robots in the United States, the robots were at a low tide and progressed slowly due to the constraints of computer, controller, drive, and transmission at the time. In the late 1960s, industrial robots were rapidly developed after being introduced into Japan. Under the situation of labor shortage, industrial upgrading, and policy support, Japan’s robotics industry experienced explosive growth in the 1970s and 1990s, creating a 20-year golden industrial robotics industry in Japan, and surpassing the United States as the world’s No. 1 robotic power. , supporting Japan to become a manufacturing power in the world.

Since the 21st century, all industrial powers in the world have made robots a priority for development.

In 2011, the United States began to implement the "Advanced Manufacturing Partnership Project", which aims to rejuvenate the U.S. manufacturing industry through the development of industrial robots, and invested US$2.8 billion in the development of a new generation of intelligent robots based on mobile Internet technology; in 2012, to complement "manufacturing "Regression" and "National Strategy for Reindustrialization", the National Science Foundation proposed the "National Robotics Program" to develop a new generation of robots that can cooperate with humans.

In October 2012, South Korea released the “Robotic Future Strategy Vision 2022” to support the expansion of the Korean robotics industry and promote robotics companies to enter overseas markets.

In 2013, Germany proposed the "Industry 4.0" plan to support the "virtual and practical" manufacturing system development plan based on robotics technology.

In June 2014, the European Union launched the world's largest civilian robot R&D program ("Sparks" program), investing 2.8 billion euros in research and development of civilian robots by 2020 to enhance the competitiveness of European industries.

Japan has formulated a long-term strategy for the development of robotics and has included the robot industry in the seven key supporting industries in the “New Industry Development Strategy”. In September 2014, the Japanese government convened the “Robots Revolution Meeting” to promote the development of robots in fields such as medical care, nursing care, agriculture, and construction sites, and strived to realize the popularization of robots, increase production efficiency, and solve labor shortages within five years. By 2020, the robotics market in the manufacturing sector will double in size, and the non-manufacturing sector will expand to 20 times.

China's Taiwan region has proposed a three-step strategy for the development of robotics technology, focusing on manufacturing robots in the short term and promoting the upgrading of the manufacturing industry; focusing on environmental protection and energy conservation concepts in the medium term, focusing on the development of emerging green industrial robots such as LED and PV (solar photovoltaic). Long-term focus on human needs, focusing on the development of medical and tourism service industry robots.

China's national defense equipment upgrade requires a large number of robots

China's industrial robots started in the early 1970s, but due to the abundant labor resources and backward technology, the development of the industrial robots has been slow. In the mid-1980s, with the gradual deepening of China's reform and opening up, we began to vigorously develop robots. In the “Seventh Five-Year Plan”, the robot was listed as a national key scientific research plan, and the “Intelligent Robotics theme” was established when the “863” plan was initiated. In the past two decades, China’s robotics technology has made remarkable progress. 1000m underwater robots, 6000m underwater robots, high-pressure water cutting robots, robotic automotive press lines, laser processing robots, surgical robots, heavy-duty forging robots, and many more Walking robots and humanoid robots have come out one after another. The application of robots in China has also been expanding. It has gradually expanded from the manufacturing industries such as automobiles and electronics to the fields of food, medical care, services, and national defense. “Since the new century, with the dramatic increase in labor costs, China’s manufacturing industry has continuously increased its demand for robots. In the future, China’s industrial transformation and upgrading, social aging response, and national defense equipment upgrade all require a large number of robots.” Robotics Research Expert Luo Baihui said that China's robotics industry has achieved a certain degree of progress, accumulated certain experience in the design and manufacture of robots, and formed a relatively large basic R&D team. China's industrial robot manufacturing technology is relatively mature, but in sharp contrast to the huge market demand, the overall development of China's robotics technology is still relatively backward, the vast majority of the domestic robot market is occupied by foreign companies, only the Swiss abb, Japan's Fanuc And Yaskawa Electric, Germany's Kuka four companies have occupied most of the domestic market share. At present, the core technologies of domestic robots are missing, and the core components such as reducers, drives, and controls rely mainly on outsourcing. The lack of autonomous design and innovation capability of robots is the bottleneck of the development of China's robot industry.

In general, intelligent robots include mechanisms, structural bodies, drive transmissions, energy power, perception, and the like. The core robot components include servomotors, speed reducers and controllers, actuators and sensors.

Harmonic reducers are generally used for light robots or robotic wrist joints. They are composed of wave generators, flexible wheels and steel wheels. They have a large reduction ratio, a small backlash, high precision, fewer components, easy installation, and small size and weight. Lightweight advantages. At present, the international harmonic reducer market is almost monopolized by Japan's Harmonic Corporation, so the company has pricing power. Research on domestic harmonic reducer started earlier. For example, Beijing Harmonic Drive Technology Research Institute began research on harmonic reducers as early as the 1960s and 1970s. Due to market issues, the research progress has been slow but accumulated more research and development experience. In recent years, domestic harmonic reducers have begun to develop rapidly, and domestic harmonic reducers have begun to find more and more applications on domestic robotic products.

RV reducers are generally used in the shoulder joints of robots to transmit large torque. At present, the international market in this field is also monopolized by Japan's Nabtesco. Domestically, some key technologies for the manufacture of RV reducers have yet to be improved. For example, pinhole shells require roundness and concentricity of dozens of semicircular holes. The control system of an industrial robot generally includes a servo layer, a master control layer, and an operation layer. The servo layer includes a servo motor, a driver, and the like. The master control layer includes a controller, an encoder, and a force sensor. At present, domestic robots have a certain degree of restriction on the core technologies of the servo layer and the master layer.

In terms of control systems, European-style robots generally use control systems such as Lenze and Bosch Rexroth. They have the advantages of strong overload capacity, good dynamic response, and strong openness of drives; but they are expensive, and Japanese robots generally use brands such as Yaskawa, Panasonic and Mitsubishi. The control system has weaker dynamic performance than the European control system, but it has a price advantage. In recent years, some domestically-made control systems have gradually begun to be applied to industrial robot products.

Luo Baihui said that the research on robot theory and key technologies is a long-term scientific challenge in China's engineering field. It needs to solve the scientific problems such as adaptability of robots and work tasks and environment, human-computer interaction and self-disciplined cooperative control, information collection and transmission mechanisms, etc. Technical bottlenecks, such as key technologies and core components such as sensors, sensing actuation and control, ensure that China is in an invincible position in the next wave of robot development. Research on robot theory and key technologies is a major strategic requirement of the country.

Where does the intelligent robot technology go?

Robotics involves many fields and has many characteristics such as cross-discipline and integration. Robots are gradually becoming intelligent devices with the ability to perceive, recognize and act autonomously. They are mathematics, mechanics, mechanism, material science, automatic control, computer, artificial intelligence, optoelectronics, communications, sensing, and bionics. The level of development achieved by the integrated technologies and technologies reflects the comprehensive strength of the country’s high-tech fields. At present, the development of robots in China requires the improvement of intelligence and self-operating capabilities, the improvement of human-computer interaction capabilities, and the improvement of safety performance, and the solution to the problems of “man-machine interaction,” “man-machine cooperation,” and “man-machine fusion.” Bottlenecks, breaking key technologies such as 3D environment perception, planning and navigation, human-like smart operations, intuitive human-computer interaction, and behavioral security.

Three goals for the development of intelligent robot technology:

First, strengthen the research on the theory and method of industrial robots' whole machine design, seek new ideas, break through the technical bottlenecks of the core basic components such as drive, transmission, sensing, and control, and improve the flexibility of robot operation and on-line sensing capabilities;

Second, strengthen research on service robots, enhance robots' understanding of human behavior and abstract instructions, human-machine communication and coordination and cooperation capabilities, and establish robot safety mechanisms;

Thirdly, in response to the need to perform tasks in hazardous or even inaccessible areas such as nuclear radiation, military battlefields, and natural and man-made disasters, special robots are researched to solve online real-time human-computer interactions, autonomous operations in dynamic unknown environments, and other issues. Coexist with people in the same environment, space and mutual assistance operations, and provide scientific theories and key technical support for the development of a much-needed modern robot.

In order to achieve the above-mentioned development goals, the development of China's intelligent robot technology needs to address the development trends of “human-machine interaction”, “man-machine cooperation”, and “man-machine fusion” emerging in modern robots, and solve three major scientific issues.

Firstly, it reveals the adaptive laws of robots and unstructured environments and uncertain tasks, and provides theoretical basis for the modern robots' innovation and design. Second, it reveals the mechanism of robots' understanding of human behavior and abstract instructions and builds them for intelligent robots. The man-machine communication and safety mechanism provide the theoretical basis. Third, it reveals the principles of human-computer interaction and self-discipline collaborative control, and provides technical support for robot man-machine coordination and cooperation.

In addition, some new special robot design technologies with strong application prospects are worth paying attention to, such as: submarine pipeline installation, overhaul and maintenance robots; submarine oil pipeline leakage rescue robots; submarine salvage and operation robots; seismic rescue and operation robots; blowout disaster relief Robots; nuclear power maintenance and decommissioning and disaster relief robots; fire and rescue robots; extraterrestrial detection and operation robots; mountainous delivery robots; autonomous walking combat robots; mobile manufacturing robot systems; multi-finger multi-arm multi-agent manufacturing robotic systems; rehabilitation, fitness , medical, home care robots; villa area security robots; human-robot cooperative construction and operation robots.

The future is full of hope

Robots have evolved from early industrial robots into a wide variety of modern industrial robots, special robots, and service robots. Although industrial robots have been widely used in various types of gate industries, they are mainly used to perform various deterministic tasks in a structured environment, and face problems such as lack of operational flexibility and weak online awareness of real-time operations. Service robots respond to future global population aging. The core means of intensifying the trend include the inability to accept abstract instructions, the difficulty in communicating effectively with people, the lack of man-machine coordination and cooperation capabilities, and the lack of security mechanisms. Special robots are used to replace humans in polar regions, deep oceans, aliens, nuclear radiation, and military battlefields. Natural and man-made disasters and other hazards are not even an important means of performing tasks in the region. There are problems that depend on off-line programming and rely on human remote operations in a dynamic and unknown environment. There is a huge gap between the robot and the robot in terms of intelligence and autonomy. Further development of the robot will inevitably require the improvement of the ability to operate, the improvement of human-computer interaction capabilities, and the improvement of safety performance. At present, robots are moving from "traditional robots" to "modern robots," showing clear technical features such as "man-machine" interaction, "man-machine" cooperation, and "man-machine" fusion. Modern robots need breakthroughs and developments in theory and technology such as perception, planning and navigation in three-dimensional environments, human-like dexterous operations, intuitive human-computer interaction, and behavioral safety.

China's robot market has a huge and diverse capacity. This is a unique advantage that is not available in the development of foreign robotics industry. Just as domestic brands in China's consumer electronics and Internet industries are constantly surpassing the giants of foreign industries, China’s robotics industry will also be created in the near future. New miracle.

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