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Brookings Institution

Manufacturers adopt robots that help human workers, not replace them. For now.

Manufacturers adopt robots that help human workers, not replace them. For now.

During more than 25 years as a factory worker, David Young has seen a parade of robots take over tasks he and his colleagues used to do by hand.

So Young, a machine operator, isn’t fazed by the sleek new “cobot” – collaborative robot – perched at his workstation at Kay Manufacturing in Calumet City.

The silver cobot, resembling a modern desk lamp, is being trained to do visual inspections of the automotive parts that Kay makes, its arm rotating the part so that an attached camera can detect any defects.

It’s a task Young says he won’t miss doing himself, just as he doesn’t miss the manual work that gave him arthritis in his hands and feet before other robots took over...

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